Saudi painter calls for women’s art museum in the kingdom

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Sameera Ismail, who is also an entrepreneur, has invited prominent business figures and national banks in Saudi Arabia to contribute to the establishment of the museum.

Saudi artist Safeya Binzagr, Shaving Ceremony, 1975. (Darat Safeya Binzagr Gallery)

RIYADH – Saudi painter Sameera Ismail is pushing for the creation of a museum dedicated to Saudi women in the arts as a means to “preserve the achievements of Saudi women artists in all branches of painting and fine art.”

Ismail emphasised the importance of supporting and empowering women in the kingdom by proposing initiatives that can help serve and promote their artistic creation.

“We need realistic ideas that serve art and its artistic culture, by setting up a museum dedicated to women and the achievements of Saudi female artists from all branches and sectors — a celebration of creative and innovative Saudi women — by establishing the first museum for women artists in the region,” Ismail wrote on Twitter.

Ismail, who is also an entrepreneur, has invited prominent business figures and national banks in Saudi Arabia to contribute to the establishment of the museum, which she hopes will encourage more Saudi women to innovate and boost art renaissance in the kingdom.

Saudi artist Sameera Ismail (Twitter)

Many Saudi women painters are well established in the international art scene, with their works sold all around the region and the world.

Among them are Bdoor bint Abdullah Al-Sudairy, who has won international awards such as the Excellence Award at the London Biennial Exhibition in 2013 for her painting “Ghat Dates: the Desserts of the Rich and the Food of the Poor,” which, like many of her works, is inspired by her Saudi heritage.

Safeya Binzagr is also a pioneer of Saudi painting. In 1970, she became the first woman to organise a solo exhibition of her work in the kingdom, which she was not able to attend because of the restrictions of the time. It was not until held a private exhibition of her work in 1976 that she was able to take part.

Binzagr owns the “Darat Safeya Binzagr” in Jeddah, an institution that aims to preserve social heritage and folklore, which are often depicted in her paintings. The institute includes workshops for children and adults, training courses and lectures on painting and modern art.

Over the years, Binzagr, who wrote a book about Saudi art titled “Saudi Arabia, An Artist’s View of the Past,” has also participated in many local and international exhibitions. Her works are displayed in countries such as Japan, Sweden, Spain, Lebanon, England and the United States.

Ibtisam Abdullah Bajabeer is a famous plastic artist from Saudi Arabia whose works are distinguished by their Islamic characters. She left a clear imprint on the development of silk drawings, in which she uses burning wood to draw Islamic lines.

She has participated in many cultural and artistic events throughout the world, such as an exhibition of Saudi women painters in Washington, and Saudi exhibitions in Spain, France and Egypt.

Pioneers of Saudi plastic art also include Hamida Al-Senan, Ahoud Al-Jarid, Fatima Abu Qahhas, Hend Al-Mansour and Ghadeer Hafez. Younger artists include Shatha Al-Omar, Hiba Reda Mari and others who continue to enrich the country’s art scene with their creative contributions.

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