Launch of Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale: a Gathering of Art and Artists in Saudi Arabia

Diriyah Foundation

The Launch

Diriyah Biennale Foundation (DBF), a platform for global dialogue and exchange, presents Saudi Arabia’s first contemporary art biennale. Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale opened to the public yesterday December 11th, 2021 in the Jax district of Diriyah.

Diriyah Biennale
© Diriyah Biennale Foundation

Diriyah’s Contemporary Art Biennale features more than 60 acclaimed artists from Saudi Arabia and around the world. It showcases the works in different mediums and art forms, the Biennale varies from site-specific commissions to celebrated pieces by leading contemporary artists. It serves as a platform for a global conversation, among celebrated artists, and people who love their work as well.

The Behind the Scenes

The launch of the Biennale is curated under the leadership of Philip Tinari, the Director and Chief Executive of Center for Contemporary Art in China (UCCA). The Biennale gets its support from a team of international curators like Wejdan Reda, the Founder of Sahaba Art Consultancy in Jeddah. Moreover, Shixuan Luan, the Curator at UCCA, and Neil Zhang the Assistant Curator at UCCA.

The Biennale’s title is proof of how much work and love it holds. It takes its title from the slogan “Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones”, which emerged in the 1980s to signify a time of social and economic transformation.

What It’s About

The Biennale is divided into six sections; Crossing the River, Experimental Preservation, Peripheral Thinking, Going Public, Brave New Worlds, and Concerning the Spiritual. The exhibition is a big conversation between artists, creating dialogues between the evolving artists of Saudi Arabia and the world.

Diriyah Biennale
Zahrah Alghamdi, Birth of a Place (2021)

Aya Al-Bakree, CEO of DBF said: “Our hope is that this Biennale will generate international dialogue and provide opportunities for discovery and connection to Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning cultural scene and creative communities. Twenty-seven featured artists from Saudi Arabia represent over 40 percent of work. Their work is on display alongside works by leading artists from different parts of the world. Their works range across media, from painting to installation to performance.”

“We are delighted to present a Saudi biennale that is rooted in its context.”

Curator Philip Tinari, Director and Chief Executive of UCCA added: “The Biennale’s aims are twofold: to bring Saudi contemporary art into the global conversation. And to bring Saudi audiences into the world of contemporary art. We look forward to welcoming thousands of visitors to discover the Biennale for themselves. We hope that it will catalyze an even deeper engagement with global contemporary art in Saudi Arabia.”

Diriyah Biennale
Xu Bing, Background story – Streams and Mountains Without End Installation

With the sections of the exhibition occupying nearly, 12,000 square meters across six interconnected warehouse buildings. The Biennale is collective proof that art and artists can do anything.

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