DUBAI: Highlights from the second ATHR Collectors’ Circle exhibition, which runs at Jeddah’s ATHR Gallery until the end of this month
Sarah Abu Abdallah
This 2020 work from the Qatif-born artist echoes one of her pieces from the same year, “Trees Speaking With Each Other,” which was a large wooden planter box containing several heirloom tomatoes from her hometown. “Through urban development, farmlands have become compromised,” she told Arab News back then. “These tomatoes are no longer available. They were grown by generations and generations of farmers. This piece is a gesture of nostalgia. It speaks about the inability to recreate what has been lost.” This piece, “Fortitude,” consists of a group of tomato seeds encased in resin that is the size and shape of actual tomatoes. The seeds are from the same heirloom tomatoes, and — according to the gallery — come from the last box sold by one of the farmers before his farm had to close. “This artwork, as its name suggests, represents perseverance, as well as the artist’s heritage and identity,” the brochure states.
‘Yellow Cow Poster’
Mater is one of Saudi’s most-acclaimed modern artists. This work is part of his ongoing series of “interventions, performances and installations inspired by a passage in the Surah-Al-Baqarah (The Cow), the longest chapter in the Qur’an,” the artist explains on his website. The titular cow is selected by God for sacrifice. “It is not a work of art that seeks resolution,” Mater states, “but an ongoing project that inserts this ancient story into a contemporary consumer society.” The statement for the show reads: “Do not trust only the calcium. It is in the milk we drink for the sanity of our bones, but we need stories to have sanity in our lives, and elegant ways of digesting meaning.”
‘Now that I’ve lost you in my dreams, where do we meet?’
Abdu’s work was inspired by her uncle’s death and a single dream she had of him afterwards. It consists of a wall of soap bars made from ingredients used in the ritual washing of the body in Islamic funeral rites. Abdu has carved a word from the title into each of the blocks. “The structure weighs down the fleeting moment of farewell, solidifying the dissipating quality of smell into tangible blocks that can be infinitely cast,” the gallery states.
Sultan bin Fahad
The Riyadh-born artist’s “Delights” series is a collaboration with the well-established carpet brand Iwan Maktabi. It displays phrases traditionally used in weddings and other celebrations, over visuals that are inspired by the ‘boxes of delights’ given as gifts at these times and show the bride’s and groom’s fathers shaking hands. “The recent lockdown triggered me to take those stories and show that the offerings are not only for special occasions. They should be shown and seen all the time,” the artist said of these works.
‘Within a Sphere 6’
The Jeddah-based Saudi-Palestinian artist’s 2015 series explores harmony and symmetry through the Platonic Solids — the five ‘perfect’ shapes derived from a sphere. “Each painting is based on the numerical value of the individual vertices of the platonic solids and the colors used are directly inspired by the four elements (earth, air, fire, water) and the heavens that Plato attributed to each shape,” the gallery explains.