Taliaa, a group exhibition featuring modern Saudi art from the early 1970s onwards, will be held at Ayyam Gallery Jeddah from 11 July - 16 October. Taliaa showcases a variety of paintings from the eight artists included in the exhibition, these works serve as points of entry into the oeuvres of some of the most significant pioneers of Saudi art, including artists and critics, Abdulhalim Radwi, Abdulrahman Al Soliman and Mohammad Al Resayes, and artists, Mohammed Al Saleem, Abduljabbar Al Yahya, Taha Al Sabban, Abdullah Al Shaikh, and Abdullah Hammas.
Born between 1930 and 1960, the above-mentioned artists were among the first to leave the Kingdom in order to pursue formal art education, traveling as far as Spain, Great Britain and Italy. The artists were influenced by Cubism and leading post-war movements of abstraction when developing their individual styles. This impact of Western Modernism is evident in the artists’ works, however, upon returning to their homeland, those educated in the West sought to create a harmonious union of such adopted techniques combined with local subject matter that referenced their own culture, tradition, and immediate surroundings. Moreover, the desire to assert a uniquely Saudi identity was beginning to take shape, and so the use of colour, palm trees, clay houses, local streets, local architecture, and folk tales from Jeddah, Mecca, Madina and Riyadh found their way into the paintings, both directly and indirectly. For example, in Al Sabban’s brightly coloured canvases the neighbourhood and streets of old Jeddah take prominence; in Al Saleem’s work the desert becomes a central character, its landscape taking on angular edges to suggest severity. In Radwi’s work magnificent mosques abound and for Al Resayes, a conscious borrowing from tradition is referenced in the title of one of his paintings, Borrowed From Tradition.
Taliaa is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue with colour reproductions and an introduction by curator Abdulaziz Ashour that traces the development of modernist painting in Saudi Arabia beginning in the 1960s.