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  ATHR, Jeddah

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5th Floor, Office Towers, Serafi Mega Mall, Tahlia Street | 21411, PO Box 279, Jeddah | Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Founded in 2009 by Hamza Serafi and Mohammed Hafiz, Athr is a Contemporary Art project space and gallery which enables artistic dialogue between contemporary artists across the world. Athr represents Middle Eastern and international artists. It provides a creative environment for artists and showcases international and Saudi contemporary art supported by extensive public programmes aimed at encouraging engagement with local audiences.


Exhibiting artists: Abdulaziz Alrashidi, Aya Haider, Badr Ali, Dana Awartani, Ghada Al Rabea, Shaker Kashgari, Ushmita Sahu, Wafaa Abu Sadaa, Mohammed Abdul Rassoul


Abdulaziz Al-Rashidi

Born in 1983 in Madinah Al-Monawara. Al-Rashidi holds a BA in Arts Education from King AbdulAziz University, Jeddah. It was during his undergraduate studies that he began learning Arabic calligraphy under the supervision of many prominent calligraphers including Ahmad Diya Ibrahim, a former student of the late Hamed El Amdi, Professor Abdul Aziz Mousatafa, a former student of renowned calligrapher Hasan Jalabi, Professor Mousatafa Abdel Rahim, a former student of The Holy Prophet’s mosque’s calligraphers Professor Shafik El Zaman, and Mouhamad Shafik El Adlabi.

Al- Rashidi taught calligraphy techniques at the University of Tayba, in Madinah. He subsequently became the Head of Arabic calligraphy at the Institute of Arts and Education in Madinah where he now works as a Professor of Arts Education. He has worked on many projects and workshops on Arabic calligraphy: the most notable classes being taught in Medina.

Al-Rashidi has participated in many fine arts and calligraphy art festivals including: The Contemporary Art Fair, Madina Mounawara, King Fahd’s Exhibition, The Prohpet’s Mosque, Madina. He has won numerous national prizes in calligraphy, and has been recognised by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Education for his book on calligraphy.


Aya Haider

Aya Haidar (b. 1985) graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from the Slade School of Fine Art in London and completed an exchange at the School of the Art Institute, Chicago. Following this, she achieved an Msc in NGOs and Development with Merit from the London School of Economics and Political Science.  

Haidar is a Lebanese multimedia artist whose work focuses on the use of found and recycled objects in order to create poetic works exploring loss, migration and memory. 

Her most recent solo exhibitions, titled Year of Issue(2014) and Behind Closed Doors (2011) were shown at the New Art Exchange, Nottingham and Bischoff Weiss Gallery, London, respectively. Her most recent group shows, I Spy with My Little Eye (2015) curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Felrath was shown at Mosaic Rooms in London and Casa Arabe in Madrid; Stitching Cyborgs (2014) featured works exhibited at Contemporary Arts Platform, Kuwait and A'Rebours (2014) at Bischoff Weiss Gallery, London. 

Haidar also undertakes independent curatorial and art education projects, namely Tate's Illuminating Cultures program (2010), V&A's Record, Resist, Reframe (2012) and most recently INIVA's A Place for Conversation (2014)

Haidar currently lives and works in London. 


Badr Ali

Badr has lived in Jeddah for most of his early adult life. His life in Saudi Arabia was the beginning of his life as a maker. Ali’s practice generally focuses on depicting the ‘sublime’ through ethereal environments, attempting to utilise the viewer’s human experience by submerging their sense of presence within an immersive space, usually through surreal landscapes. He is inspired by European classical paintings by old Masters such as Rubens, William Blake and John Martin, and their use of landscapes to further underline the dramatic tones the works expresses. Badr seeks to project that melodramatic notion with more emphasis on the environment as opposed to the bodies and poses their work usually pertain.


Dana Awartani

Dana Awartani is a Palestinian-Saudi artist born and raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where she lives and works today. Her training draws upon contemporary and traditional modes of practice and thought. She first acquired her foundation degree in Art and Design at Central St. Martins Byam Shaw and then a B.A in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. During this rigorous contemporary training, she was drawn to explorations of traditional art forms, deconstructing their capacity to invest interpretation and meaning. This inspired her to pursue a two-year Masters at The Princes’ School of Traditional Arts, where she refined her skills in Islamic art forms and received a distinction for her work.

Influenced by these two diverse routes, her works are continual acts of revival, performances of contemporisation. Intricate manuscript illumination, parquetry, ceramics, stained glass, miniature painting, and mosaics are finely wrought examples of traditional Islamic art forms. She is furthering her practice and commitment to preserving these skills through the completion of an ‘Ijazacertificate – the highest form of recognition and authorisation to eventually transmit the skill of Islamic illumination. 


Ghada Al Rabea

Born in 1979 in the city of Medina, Ghada Al Rabea studied home economics and fine arts at the local Taiba University.

She continues to teach these subjects at schools and organises various art workshops. She has been an active member of the Medina art scene, has exhibited in numerous shows locally and has exhibited at Athr Gallery in Jeddah for the first time in 2013 as part of their annual ‘Young Saudi Artists’ exhibition’.

A blogger once wrote “If many people think that the Abaya hinders Muslim women’s development and dreams, they should have a broader vision and a closer look at Muslim women in general, and at Saudi women in particular”. This sentence applies to no one better than to Ghada Al Rabea. Her representations capture the details of Saudi daily life showing a love of her country and strength of spirit. Her technique of using candy wrappers instead of traditional paints give her work a kitsch element that echoes the sweet innocence of the simple life, one that cannot help but resonate and touch a chord with the viewer.


Shaker Kashgari

Kashgari started Arabic calligraphy in 2013. He began with Diwan and

Farsi then moved into freestyle kufi square, Al Wissam and light calligraphy.

The artwork idea is based on the explanation of the Quranic Verse ‘Holy Allah Says’ as humans we cannot see the things in our bare eyes, because this is our capability as humans. Which leads us to follow the Holy wisdom from Allah that we are not perfect and it leads us to worship Allah in a continuous manner in life.


Ushmita Sahu

The series Déjà vu Incident, Occurrence, Interlude and Episode is an artistic reinterpretation of the concept of episodic memory.

Déjà vu is a sudden feeling of familiarity that you have had the exact same experience before. As an experience it is usually fleeting, occurring randomly and briefly, without warning and has no physical manifestations, Déjà vu is, as many researchers propose, a phenomenon that is a memory-based experience and the memory centres of the brain are responsible for it. Memory can help us to navigate our futures in many ways, ranging from our use of imagination and ability to be creative to simply allowing us to know what to do next or how to react in situations. Being a form of memory, it is possible that déjà vu does the same. In the series, Ushmita Sahu has revisited the same memory in four different permutations. The memory of the same object, space or situations, sometimes feel the same yet are unlike each other - perhaps indicating unrecalled, buried memory.


Wafaa Abu Sadaa 

Wafaa comes from Jaffa, Palestine and holds a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design from Dar Alhekma University.

Her work is driven from a profound desire to explore the uncharted areas within human nature and human history. Her art is a result of mixed media worked together to find new methods of visual expression to fulfill her curiosity about learning different practices. With endless possibilities to explore new topics and methods, she keeps her processes fluid, far from all definitions. This body of work is an ongoing exploration into the power of documentation that the media holds over our society. This body of work started at the height of the Arab Spring, as a reflective response to similar newspaper headings dating back from the 80’s and 90’s, from magazines and newspapers belonging to Abu Saada’s father’s archives.

The cyclical and perpetual nature of news feeds is one that Abu Saada highlights here, bridging issues inter-generationally and geopolitically.

The purpose of the project is to document the repetition of events we live and witness, to raise the individual and collective awareness, and invite people to understand and analyse how history affects our life today.


Mohammed Abdul Rassoul

Mohammed Abdel Rassoul was born in 1979 in Sudan and moved to Khartoum in 1985, where he completed his studies. Learning about the functions of the line in drawing and the ability to create movement pushed the artists to experiment further into creating his own style with the traditional line. He was especially influenced by impressionism, and the work of other artists like Rembrandt and later Gustav Clement and Francis Bacon. His concepts are inspired by short stories, surrealism and mythology. Mohammed has presented two solo-exhibitions in Khartoum, Sudan: Rashid Diab Arts Centre [2013] and Gallery Mojo [2012], and has participated in group exhibitions such as the Sudanese National Museum [2007], The British Council, Khartoum [2008], The French Cultural Center [2010], German Cultural Center, Khartoum [2010]. Mohammed has completed a residency program at the Thami Mnyele Foundation, Amsterdam [2010], and his work was acquired by the Sudanese Presidential Palace.

*Image Credit:
Ghada Al Rabea 
Contemporary Jahiliyya 6, 2013
Candy wrappers on wood (x 14) 
80 x 50 cm
Courtesy of the artist and ATHR, Jeddah