Unbeknownst to many, Saudi Arabia is home to a growing and vibrant contemporary art scene. With numerous artists, shows, private collections, and art galleries across the Kingdom, particularly in Jeddah, a city many view as the unofficial arts and culture capital of KSA, there is continuous and collective efforts to bring contemporary art to Saudi Arabia’s main cities. Here are four contemporary art galleries in Riyadh and Jeddah to visit:
1. Athr Gallery
Founded in 2009, Athr is renowned as one of Jeddah’s leading spaces for contemporary arts. A platform for emerging and established artists, both local and international, the gallery has hosted many outstanding exhibitions over the last eight years covering various mediums, from photography to ink, scripture to sculpture. Athr represents Saudi artists such as Sara Abdu, Arwa Al Neami, Shadia Alem, and Ahmed Mater.
2. Naila Art Gallery
This two-floor reconfigurable art hub in Riyadh has made a name for itself, hosting key solo and international artist exhibitions. One of the biggest galleries of contemporary arts in the country, it also hosts and organizes various creative initiatives such as workshops, talks, seminars, and symposiums. The Gallery represents artists such as Muhammad Zaza, Toufic Al-Hamidi, Fahad Al-Niemah, Abdullah Al Marzook, Ghada Al-Hassan, and Ayman Zedani, Saudi artists who have made a mark both locally and internationally.
3. Arabian Wings
This non-profit organization in Jeddah is one of the most important contemporary art spaces in the country in terms of capacity and wall space, with an area of 1500 square meters, an 8-meter high ceiling, the latest security equipment, and temperature control systems. With a vision to position Saudi Arabia as a driving force behind arts and culture in the Middle East, it has exhibited works by world renowned artists such as Damien Hirst, Louai Kayyali, Banksy, Saud Mahjoub, Heba Abed, Sir Peter Blake, and Salvador Dali, alongside local and international emerging artists.
4. L’Art Pur Gallery
Founded in 1999 by Princess Adwa Bint Yazid Al Saud, this Riyadh-based gallery is one of the largest in the Middle East. Designed in the style of a museum, its spacious exhibition area is divided over three halls, each equipped with lighting and sound systems. L’ArtPur Gallery hosts diverse programmed events, including workshops, seminars, competitions, and exhibitions in collaboration with embassies, different art institutions, and industry bests.