photo by Fouzia Khan for Arab News

From left to right: Hisham Qandeel, owner of Atelier Jeddah, the artist Ola Hejazi and patron Nadia al Zuhair Zahid. Photo by Fouzia Khan for Arab News.

Atelier Jeddah – also often called Jeddah Atelier – may not attract the kind of international art world attention that Athr does, but the gallery is solidly implanted in the Jeddah art world, catering to local tastes without disregarding international currents.

Established in the mid 1990s as the Saudi Art Center, the gallery has been run since its inception by the Egyptian art dealer Hisham Qandeel, now assisted by the Jordanian curator and assistant Hala Joudi. The gallery has an extremely rapid pace of exhibitions, often hosting scores of artists at the same time, most of whom work in the Saudi modernist style (figurative, expressionist or ‘hurufiyya’ letter art). The art one generally finds here is painting on canvas or sculpture, and is meant to appeal to a broad audience; ‘art to hang above the sofa’ as it is disparagingly called.

Although this description evokes a rather staid taste according to Western standards, the gallery nonetheless plays an important role both in providing a living to many artists, and in attracting large crowds for its frequent openings, and quite a lot of local press coverage. For example it hosts a yearly affordable art exhibition; in the last edition more than 100 local artists participated, and the works were priced between 300 and 2000 Saudi Riyals (50 to 400 Euros). Atelier Jeddah was also the breeding ground of several artists that now have been picked up by Athr Gallery, such as Ayman Yossri Daydban or Saddiq Wasil.

There are no obvious exchange opportunities with the gallery; its owner Hisham Qandeel only speaks Arabic, but his assistant Hala Joudi speaks English. It is a good place to go to get a feel of the local art world.

Written by: RobertK Last modified: 19th Nov 2012
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