Jeddah has long been a hub for Saudi Arabia’s art scene. Its famous corniche is peppered with sculptures by the likes of Joan Miró, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, and Jean Arp. The works were brought to Jeddah during the seventies and eighties by the city’s mayor, who was a leading Saudi art patron and collector. In February, Jeddah will carve out a niche for itself on the international arts circuit with the launch of a new contemporary art event. Taking its title from the city’s geographic coordinates, ’21,39′ is being spearheaded by the Saudi Art Council, a group of individuals who are dedicated to promoting the country’s burgeoning art scene. Lead by Princess Jawaher Bint Majed Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Al-Mansouria Foundation’s founder, it will feature a variety of curated cultural events held throughout historic Jeddah in collaboration with local galleries and art institutions.
The opening is February 4 to 8, and the hope is that ’21,39′ will serve to build bridges between Saudi Arabia and the global community, while giving local audiences the opportunity to explore contemporary Saudi art. Planned exhibitions will feature the work of artists such as Ahmed Mater, Manal Al Dowayan, and Saddek Wasil, who have received international attention in recent years. It will also be an opportunity for visitors to engage with regional and international figures and experts in the art world, who will be participating in talks, panel discussions, and guided tours. Among the relevant topics on tap are the direction Saudi art is taking within the region as well as the role of artists as cultural diplomats. ’21,39′ will also draw attention to the importance of restoring and developing Balad, the city’s historic district, through installations, performances, and workshops.
For more information, visit www.21-39.com.
Photos: Courtesy of ’21,39′