7 of the best artworks at Noor Riyadh’s “From Spark to Spirit” exhibition
The show runs until February 4 and brings together works by 30 artists…
Taking place at Riyadh’s JAX District, the “From Spark to Spirit” exhibition examines light as a signal of change and its role in shaping our relationship with the world, bringing works by 30 international and local artists together.
Organised by British independent art curator Neville Wakefield, who is the artistic director of Desert X, and Saudi interior architect Gaida AlMogren, the exhibition explores themes such as the “Technologies of Light,” “Architectonics of Light,” and “Consciousness of Light”, inspiring visitors to contemplate themselves and the world in new ways.
The visit is worth it just to see the interesting contemporary works – plus, it’s free entry – but we’ve also rounded up a list of the best artworks at the “From Spark to Spirit” exhibition.
Delicate (2019), Daniah AlSaleh
The Saudi artist looks at fractal patterns and complex networks of microorganisms in her work. A series of powerful hanging sculptures – made of paper, screens, acrylic, wood, felt, canvas, and wire – occupy an entire exhibition room. The work addresses the inequalities of religion, class, and race in today’s diverse societies. While the work derives its inspiration directly from biology, it ultimately explores social systems and asks: “How do we grapple with change? How can we humans live as equals with nature, coexisting in appreciation and respect?”
Machine Dreams: Space (2022), Refik Anadol
An artist fascinated by memory and the creative potential of machines, Refik Anadol makes data his preferred material and artificial intelligence his principal collaborator. Projected on every surface of a large space, the installation immerses visitors in a continuous flow of imagery, weaved from publicly accessible photographs of Riyadh from social media platforms and digital image archives reinterpreted by artificial intelligence. He tests new possibilities for experiencing digital space and how media technologies impact our understanding of what is real. Going beyond mere entertainment, this multi-sensory experience attempts to examine a new relationship between machine and man by exploring the potential dimensions of virtual reality limited only by the current technology, but more so by our imagination.
Blooms (2014-2022), John Edmark
John Edmark is the creator of 3D-printed Blooms – a set of five animated sculptures that, when spun under strobe lights, animate outward ad infinitum. You’ll notice, for instance, how the petals of the flower-like sculpture move from the top to the bottom as it rotates. When changing to the angle from above, the petals move out from the centre. What the strobe does is transform this high-speed movement into these patterns that you’ll find in nature. For those who find a certain satisfaction in patterns, the synchronised rotational speed and strobe rate of the bloom will capture and hold your interest, keeping you engaged.
Hidden Order (2022), United Visual Artists (UVA)
UVA’s strong point is their work with light and space that is truly original and deeply emotive. And their latest installation focuses on the immaterial, with pinpointed laser lights and ambient music defining the artwork’s perceptive form. Inspired by Renaissance perspective drawings by Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Albrecht Dürer, Pythagoras’ mathematics and sound observations, and the tessellating geometric patterns found in ancient Islamic art, Hidden Order employs perspective and geometry as tools to reshape and redefine space. In this case, a long, darkened room that fully brings the conceptual nature of the “From Spark to Spirit” exhibition into a distinguishing light.
Eroding Waves (2016-2022), Jim Campbell
This dramatic LED light installation disperses and thins as it nears the floor. Like a wave approaching the shore, it reveals a swimming figure only visible at certain distances and angles. Eroding Waves reflects the changeability of perception and involves a viewer’s participation to relate to an encounter with the cycles and tides of the natural world.
Extrospection (2022), Theories of Imagination (TOFI)
Extrospection is a joyful spatial experience featuring large and colourful rotating light boxes, each of which dims to reveal a mirror when people are standing on either side of it. The artwork explores the relationship between oneself and others. You can experience it alone, but it rotates away from you as light. The ultimate experience, however, is when two people stand on opposite sides of each other. The light boxes turn into mirrors. Extrospection exploits the duality between individual and communal experience and challenges presumptions by transforming the personal act of staring in the mirror into a shared endeavour. Through this artwork, visitors are encouraged to collaborate and interact with each other, whether they are strangers or friends. To integrate visitors deeper into the Extrospection atmosphere, TOFI has collaborated with Saudi musician Abdullah Faisal, where different musical pieces are present in each light box so that you can be absorbed in the present moment with all five senses.
The River (2022), Doug Aitken
The final artwork in the exhibition is a sculpture featuring three resin figures standing on a desert landscape and leaning forward with their foreheads in contact. Soft light circulates the figures until it lights up all three of them. Light is life, and it’s a fascinating depiction of how ideas connect and change the world.
From Spark to Spirit Exhibition, until Feb 4, Sat to Thurs 11am to midnight & Fri 4pm to midnight, JAX 03, JAX District, Riyadh. Book your visit here. Free entry. @noorriyadhfestival