Turner Prize Winner Sir Antony Gormley Participates in Innovative '21,39' Programme

February 26, 2014 | Following the successful launch by the Saudi Art Council of the inaugural ’21,39′ Jeddah Arts at the beginning of the month, the programme continues to showcase an engaging agenda for and to the city’s community. Chaired by HRH Princess Jawaher bint Majed Al Saud, President of Al Mansouria, the first edition of ’21,39′ aims to preserve and present the cultural movement in Saudi Arabia with a two-month long programme that presented the opening of two curated exhibitions, “Moallaqat” and “Past is Prologue”, featuring modern and contemporary Saudi artists, a symposium attended by regional and international industry experts as well as openings throughout the city of local spaces and pop-up by Riyadh-based galleries.

ShoesandDrama.com | Sir Antony During his talk

Courtesy Athr Gallery

The Saudi Art Council aims to cater and enrich cultural awareness in Jeddah, encouraging members of the community to attend and be a part of the ’21,39′ programme of curated talks and workshops. Adhering to this commitment, the programme presented British artist Sir Antony Gormley, who appeared for his first public talk in Saudi Arabia in conversation with Ahmed Mater on ‘Sculpture and the Collective Imagination.’

Sir Antony is widely acclaimed for his sculptures, installations, and public artworks, which focus on the human body and its relationship to space. Since the 1960s his work has explored the fundamental methods of where human beings stand in relation to nature and the universe.

ShoesandDrama.com | Sir Antony and Ahmed Mater during the talk

Sir Antony and Ahmed Mater during the talk. Photo courtesy Athr Gallery

Both Sir Antony and Mater, an increasingly renowned figure in Saudi Arabian and wider Middle Eastern art, discussed aspects and opinions on the medium of sculpture and its connotations in today’s art world using examples from Sir Antony’s repertoire and Mater’s recent work, which presents an unofficial history of Saudi socio-political life. The talk was held on Thursday February 20th at Gold Moor Centre, Jeddah to a capacity audience, and followed by a Q&A session.

“The Saudi Art Council is proud to present two artists whose works are a testament to the enhancement of the versatile and vibrant programme of ’21,39′ which engages and informs the audience on the association between society and art,” says Mohammed Hafiz, Vice-Chairman of The Saudi Art Council and Co-Founder of Athr Gallery. “Our vision is to further the dialogue between artists in the Kingdom with regional and global artists, amplifying the shared social understanding and inspire an ongoing interaction.”

“This initiative shows the possibility of richness and diversity. Not just nostalgic, but traditions are revived and re-looked at, such as calligraphy, embroidery and metalwork,” said Sir Antony of the ’21,39′ event. “It allows art to test the limits of our perception. If our limit is the horizon, the perceptual edge; art encourages us to think what lies beyond that edge.”

The ‘21,39’ programme continues until April 2014 with a special education program offering guided school tours of the two exhibitions, a volunteer programme, mentoring sessions for young Saudi artists, and a series of workshops for children and adults. For more information, please visit the website.


About Ahmed Mater

Ahmed Mater was born in 1979 in Tabuk and grew up in Abha; the capital of Aseer (a region to the south of Saudi Arabia), far from the urban centers of Saudi Arabia, of which he remains rooted to its identity. As well as leading a young artistic collective called Ibn Aseer (Son of Aseer), Mater is an integral part of the history of Abha’sMiftaha Arts Village while simultaneously studying medicine. Ahmed also co-founded Edge of Arabia in 2008. His recent work presents an unofficial history of Saudi sociopolitical life. It is concerned with the representation of traumatic events of collective historical dimensions, and the ways in which films, video, image, performance and text can document physical and psychological violence. Mater’s work has been widely exhibited across the globe such as The Mori Museum of Art (Tokyo), The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO), the Sharjah Biennale (2013), Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde (Leiden Museum of Ethnology), Home Works 6 at AshkalAlwan in Beirut, Lebanon (2013), and Galleria Continua’s Le Moulin (Paris).

He was invited to participate in a number of panels and talks: The Louvre [2010], Berlin Akademie der Kunste [2010], The Armory Show New York [2011], Art Basel Miami [2012], Leiden Museum Amsterdam [2013].His work is in the collection of the British Museum [London], Victoria & Albert Museum [London], Los Angeles County Museum of Art [Los Angeles, CA], the Museum of Islamic Art [Doha] and Centre Pompidou [Paris].


About Sir Antony Gromley

Gormleywas born in London in 1950 and continually tries to identify the space of art as a place of becoming in which new behaviours, thoughts and feelings can arise. Gormley’s work has been widely exhibited throughout the UK and internationally with exhibitions at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, São Paulo, Rio di Janeiro and Brasilia (2012); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2012); The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (2011); KunsthausBregenz, Austria (2010); Hayward Gallery, London (2007); Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (1993) and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (1989). He has also participated in major group shows such as the Venice Biennale (1982 and 1986) and Documenta 8, Kassel, Germany (1987). Permanent public works include the Angel of the North (Gateshead, England), Another Place (Crosby Beach, England), Inside Australia (Lake Ballard, Western Australia) and Exposure (Lelystad, The Netherlands).

Gormley was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994, the South Bank Prize for Visual Art in 1999, the Bernhard Heiliger Award for Sculpture in 2007, the Obayashi Prize in 2012 and the PraemiumImperiale in 2013. In 1997 he was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) and was made a knight in the New Year’s Honours list in 2014. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, an Honorary Doctor of the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity and Jesus Colleges, Cambridge. Gormley has been a Royal Academician since 2003 and a British Museum Trustee since 2007.


About ’21, 39′

’21, 39′ is an annual event held in Jeddah by the Saudi Art Council presenting the narrative of art throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The debut edition highlights the history of the Kingdom’s modern and contemporary movements while encouraging further public, private and institutional support, and the support of the arts and Saudi artists through a curated and diverse programme and cross-cultural understanding. Taking its title from the city’s geographical coordinates, this event offers an exclusive programme of exhibitions, educational workshops, seminars and a unique restoration programme of the old city, Al-Balad.

’21, 39′ is organised by the Saudi Art Council: chaired by HRH Princess Jawaher bint Majed Al-Saud and under the guidance of AyaAlireza, Sara Alireza, Sharifa Al Sudairi, Nawwaf Al Nassar, Basma Al Sulaiman, Abdullah Al Turki, Nadia Al Zuhair, Sara Binladen, Eissa Bougary, Raneem Farsi, Mohammed Hafiz, Hamza Serafi, Hayat Shobokshi and Faisal Tamer.