Thursday, May 2, 2013

Saudi artist plans Arab state's first artist-run foundation
Amen Art Foundation will support emerging artists and encourage art education

Abdulnasser Gharem with one of his stamp works
The Saudi conceptual artist Abdulnasser Gharem plans to set up the Arab state's first artist-run foundation in Riyadh in light of “the art revolution taking place in Saudi Arabia”, he says. Gharem, who is also a lieutenant colonel in the Saudi Arabian army, aims to support emerging artists and encourage art education through the new organisation called the Amen Art Foundation.
“We have so many good artists here. The galleries and, unfortunately,auction houses are starting to move in but there are no institutions or foundations here to help the younger artists,” he tells The Art Newspaper. Raising funds will not be his biggest challenge, he says, but changing attitudes in the notoriously conservative state could be an issue. “This country is full of people who have the [necessary] money. But the problem will be getting the government's permission to launch the foundation. Such art foundations are not part of our culture,” Gharem says.

A non-selling exhibition of Gharem’s works, which opened at the Side by Side Gallery in Berlin on 25 April (until 13 July), invites people to contribute to and explore the project. Akim Monet, the gallery owner, says: “I spontaneously offered Abdulnasser to use my gallery as a laboratory, as a forum to present the idea, but also as a platform through which to develop the project.” 

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