Illumination Dyptich by Ahmed Matar

Supported by Edge of Arabia, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) acquired two major works by leading Saudi artists Ahmed Mater and Abdulnasser Gharem.

Mater’s Illumination Dyptich (Ottoman Waqf) and Abdulnasser Gharem's Al Siraat (Video) have become the first Saudi contemporary artworks to be collected by a conventional American museum.

Edge of Arabia, which has always aimed to increase the exposure of Arab contemporary art across the globe, has managed to succeed once again, after a praised exhibition earlier this year at the Venice Biennale. By donating the above mentioned artworks to the prominent LACMA, it has enabled Arab, more specifically Saudi, artists to reach an international scale.

Michael Govan, Director of LACMA commented:

"I first encountered contemporary Saudi art during a trip to Riyadh in January, 2010, when I had the opportunity to see Edge of Arabia in its initial iteration. I was deeply impressed by what I saw and also by what I heard from the artists themselves. At the time, I thought that Abdulnasser Gharam’s Al-Siraat and one of Ahmed Mater’s Illuminations would make wonderful additions to LACMA’s collection. I am therefore delighted that one year later both artists are represented at LACMA. We are especially grateful for the gift of Ahmed Mater’s Illumination Dyptich (Ottoman Waqf), which was made expressly for us and looks to be one of the finest examples in this series"

Ahmed Mater’s Illumination Dyptich was included in LACMA’s exhibition, Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts (June 5 – September 5, 2011). The exhibition explored Islamic art through the universal tradition of gift giving. Linda Komaroff, Curator of Islamic Art at LACMA praised his work by saying:

"Mater’s Illumination Dyptich is connected to many of the great examples of classical Islamic art in the exhibition that are similarly inscribed and thereby transformed into charitable donations. It is an absolutely wonderful work that can hold its own against some of the masterpieces of Islamic art that will surround it.

In keeping with the exhibition’s theme, we are most grateful for the generous gift of Ahmed Mater’s Illumination Dyptich; it is an important and welcome addition to our growing collection of contemporary Middle Eastern art."

This is only the beginning of the rise in appreciation of Saudi art. By gaining international recognition, Arab artists, with the help of Edge of Arabia, are putting contemporary Arab art on the map. Literally.

– Alya N. Al-Othman

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