RIYADH: Saudi X Love is an art exhibition by Saudi artist Mariam Al-Jumaa that depicts the intimacy of love. Curated by Dana Qabbani, the collection is being showcased at Boulevard City in Riyadh until Feb. 28.
Resha Leon opened in Boulevard City as a new space for artists to showcase their work. The Saudi X Love showing will have 38 of Al-Jumaa’s paintings.
In an interview with Arab News, Al-Jumaa expressed her inspiration behind the theme. “My directive is to paint humans and immortalize them in the artwork. They hold deep emotions within them that are meant to be painted. I wanted to capture the essence of Saudi love specifically.”
The collection includes paintings of a couple dressed in traditional Saudi clothing embracing one another. The artworks were created using mixed mediums including acrylic, digital, print, and sowing.
Al-Jumaa started drawing at the age of five and began seriously pursuing her journey as an artist by the time she was in high school. She has previously showcased her work at international exhibitions in Japan and the UK, and is finally doing a solo exhibit in the Kingdom.
Al-Jumma, from Al-Ahsa, says she has rarely seen Saudis in intimate settings in local art. “Expressing our intimate emotions is found everywhere in our culture. It is in music, poetry, film, and even in children’s books where parental love is shown, but rarely in art. Love stories in our culture have existed for countless years,” she said.
The multimedia art pieces portray a wide range of emotions including passion, love, and comfort.
The Saudi X Love art exhibition by Saudi artist Mariam Al-Jumaa is inspired by the passionate love portrayed in the Middle Eastern and Arab folktales of One Thousand and One Nights. Curated by Dana Qabbani, the collection is being showcased at Resha Leon in Boulevard City in Riyadh until Feb. 28. The showing features 38 paintings by Al-Jumaa.
She explained the emotional nuance in her art. “I wanted to create paintings that show a different side of relationships, a side where the Saudi male is delicate. The media always depicts relationships as a war on authority, but the reality is many Saudis live a real-life love story.”
Al-Jumaa takes inspiration from literary heritage — the beloved “One Thousand and One Nights,” a collection of Middle Eastern and Arab folktales filled with stories of passion and love.
Qabbani, the curator, first met Al-Jumaa as one of the 20 Saudi artists who took her training course at the British Embassy. “The training consisted of teaching the artists how to manage their portfolio, CV, and create an interactive Instagram page to launch their careers. After the training, Mariam started working on her art exhibition, Saudi X Love.”
Qabbani, who has been in the art scene for 18 years, chose to collaborate with Al-Jumaa based on the originality and the self-expression in her style. She said: “Studying art history has made me realize that the Arab world does not have a wide range of intimacy in art. Mariam showed me photos of her Saudi couple paintings and I was amazed by it. I told myself, ‘I have to do an exhibition with her before anyone else does’ because I saw something in her.”
She wanted Saudi X Love to be held in the Resha Leon art studio, owned by Eman Madeel and Reem Yousef, in Boulevard City as it would allow a larger number of visitors to be able to enjoy the artworks.
In sync with the government’s initiative to support artists, Madeel and Yousef opened two branches of Resha Leon where over 120 local artists have had the opportunity to share their work. Madeel said she felt touched by Al-Jumaa’s art and how it reflects admiration.
“‘Love in the air’ is not only a sensation that couples experience, but a shared condition that can spread to everyone. The love for our parents, siblings, children, and friends; it is an international language of appreciation and admiration,” said Madeel.
When asked about her idea of love, Al-Jumaa beamed and said: “Love is something that we all practice in everything. I eat what I love, I wear what I love, I live the way of life that I love, I even adopt the philosophy I love, because love is present in everything.”