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

540Following 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 AlMansouria, 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.

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.

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.

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