This will be Saudi Arabia’s first international contemporary art biennale…

Bold, beautiful and breath-taking, biennales have become big business. These are the equivalent of major sporting events in the art world, attracting art-lovers in their thousands.

And for the first time, Saudi Arabia is organising and hosting its first international contemporary art biennale.

The inaugural Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale will be held from December 11 to March 11, 2022, and will showcase works from more than 70 regional and international artists.

The three-month event aims to provide a platform for discovery and connection to Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning cultural scene and creative communities.

The Kingdom’s first contemporary art biennale will take place in the JAX district of Diriyah.

JAX is being repurposed to a custom-made art space to present immersive contemporary art exhibitions, offering an interactive experience for all visitors.

2021 Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale

The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale will be curated by Philip Tinari, director and chief executive of the UCCA Centre for Contemporary Art in China.

The biennale will be presented in six sections, with works exploring the theme “Feeling the Stones” and engaging visitors in a dialogue around contemporary art.

One of the works on display includes the winning piece of this year’s Ithra Art Prize.

The interactive programme also includes events and activities for all generations.

Saudi Arabia’s cultural awakening and flourishing art scene

The Diriyah Biennale Foundation, established in 2020 with the support of the Saudi Ministry of Culture, will organise two of Saudi Arabia’s first art biennales: this year’s Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale and a second biennale in 2022, which will focus on Islamic arts.

“Cultural and artistic exchange is essential in this period of unprecedented growth and development in the creative community in Saudi Arabia,” said Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Farhan.

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Aya Al-Bakree, CEO of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, also commented on the key role the Foundation is playing as a mediator between the Saudi art world and the international cultural community.

“We could not be prouder to provide the platform for this historic moment in the evolution and growth in the arts and culture landscape of Saudi Arabia.”

She added, “The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is emblematic of our commitment to showcasing the array of local talent in Saudi Arabia, in dialogue with leading artists from around the world. The biennale will drive cultural exchange, promote dialogue and understanding, and further establish the Saudi Arabian artistic community as an important cultural voice.”

Diriyah is home to a Unesco World Heritage-listed site, Turaif, the first capital of the Saudi dynasty, founded in the 15th century.

Images: Provided