RIYADH: Sculptors from around the world will soon transform the streets of Riyadh into an art gallery without borders, using locally sourced stones from Tuwaiq, an area outside the capital, for the fourth edition of Tuwaiq Sculptures.
This year’s theme is “The Energy of Harmony” and the artworks will be on display at Durrat Al Riyadh from 5 to 10 February.
Sarah Al-Ruwaiti, head of Riyadh Art, told Arab News: “Sculpture has existed in Saudi Arabia throughout history, it is a traditional art form. What is amazing about the Tuwaiq sculpture is that it gives you the opportunity to watch these stones transform into works of art.”
“I used to see sculptures in museums and galleries when I was a kid, and I never believed that anyone could carve such amazing and gigantic pieces of art using their hands. I think it’s a great way to encourage the younger generation and promote (creativity) and the culture of sculpture as well.”
Curated by London-based creative producer Marek Wolinski, the event will feature original designs dedicated to the artists and their ancillary teams, created specifically for Twiq’s sculpture.
“Tuwaiq Sculpture intends to build bridges between tradition and modernity, a unique platform for people to meet, collaborate, share knowledge, and most importantly, create public artworks that will then pass on the landscape of Riyadh for generations to come,” said Wolinsky. Arab News.
From 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through February 2, visitors can take guided tours to see the artists at work, carving raw blocks of granite and sandstone.
The final large-scale artwork will eventually be distributed throughout the city, part of a project to beautify Riyadh and promote creative expression and dialogue under the Riyadh Art Programme, one of the largest public art initiatives in the world.
“The theme of ‘energy of harmony’ really inspires artists to create iconic sculptures that embody those manifestations to present and witness transformative change. It’s all about mutual understanding. It’s all about the balance we all strive for in our lives,” said Wolinsky.
The “Rain Stone” sculpture by English artist Rob Good attempts to depict natural rainfall by reconciling the softness of clouds with the hardness of granite. He used different colors of beige, purple and gray to symbolize the desert landscape. These are not clouds drifting on a sunny day, but clouds that herald a rainstorm.
Good carved three broad stones overlapping each other to mimic the delicate silhouettes of clouds. People will be able to interact with the statue, walk through its gaps, or just sit back and think about the philosophy behind the work.
“This granite is beige in color, and it can get quite dark when it’s been very polished. But I’ll leave it roughly sanded so that it stays light until it rains and gets it wet. And then they’ll shift, so it’s kind of that extra kind of pay for people to go out and enjoy it,” he said. Judd for Arab News.
“I love the idea that people can move through them and kids can run around them and play. I suppose I adore clouds right now[because]we hang a lot of symbols on clouds.”
In her work “Harmony”, the Saudi artist Wafaa Al-Qunaibet uses Arabic calligraphy to present the 99 names of God in the Islamic religion. The word “hearing” stands for “he who listens” in curved granite letters.
“My goal is to represent religion through art,” Al-Quneibet explained. “The challenge for this seminar is to use granite, which is much stronger than alabaster or marble, but I used the point and blank spaces to create this name.”
Lockdown Window by Italian artist Marino Di Prospero challenges the idea of infinity through surrealism. Di Prospero block of brown granite will soon frame the surroundings. Twisting in itself on such a scale, the structure would make it impossible to pass through the “window”, just as many people were unable to leave their homes during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Apart from the public art on display, the Tuwaiq sculpture will also include workshops, panel discussions, school visits, and master classes ranging from beginner to intermediate levels.
Faris al-Haramah will run an art workshop for traditional doors, and the Madayn Center will organize a mid-level workshop for wood carving. Elsewhere, visitors can learn about jewelry making, wire carving, plaster carving, and more.
The panel discussions will focus on the topic of “preserving culture through art”. Guest speakers include Saudi architect Saleh Al-Hathloul, Director of Arts and Culture at the Diriyah Gate Development Authority Dalia Musa, and Director of Performing Arts at the Royal Institute of Traditional Arts Dr. Samir Al-Dhamer.