Tuwaiq Sculpture Symposium opens in Riyadh for the first time

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Mexican artist Carlos Monge with his geometric-inspired flower sculpture. (AN Photo/Iqbal Hussein)
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German sculptor Raphael Beil puts the finishing touches on his latest offering. (AN Photo/Iqbal Hussein)
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The lot provided for the symposium, just outside Tuwaiq Palace in the Diplomatic Quarter. (AN Photo/Iqbal Hussein)
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An assistant helps to polish the marble of one of the participants' sculptures. (AN Photo/Iqbal Hussein)
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Costa Rican sculptor Gemma Dominguez works on her latest creation. (AN Photo/Iqbal Hussein)
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Costa Rican sculptor Gemma Dominguez works on her latest creation. (AN Photo/Iqbal Hussein)
Updated 19 March 2019
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Tuwaiq Sculpture Symposium opens in Riyadh for the first time

  • Since their arrival, the international artists have enjoyed tours of the city, including to Al-Masmak Fortress, as well as newer landmarks such as Kingdom Tower
  • The symposium will run until March 22

RIYADH: The first Tuwaiq International Sculpture Symposium kicked off in Riyadh on Monday morning in the capital’s Diplomatic Quarter, featuring the works of 23 artists from 18 different countries.
Participants of note include South Korean sculptor So Dong Choe, Mexican artist Carlos Monge, and Japan’s Yoshin Ogata. The symposium’s three Saudi participants are Ali Al-Toukhais, his nephew Talal Altukhaes, and Mohammad Althagafi.
Altukhaes, an organizer as well as a participant, told Arab News that the goal of the symposium was to create an environment in which artists could share techniques, collaborate with one another, and promote a sense of camaraderie.
The sculptors will assist each other in creating their artworks despite the language barriers between them, but Altukhaes told Arab News that words were not as important as demonstrations of technique, given most of the sculptors would wear ear protection to guard against the constant buzz of heavy machinery anyway.
Since their arrival, the international artists have enjoyed tours of the city, including to Al-Masmak Fortress, as well as newer landmarks such as Kingdom Tower. “Everyone is happy, you can see it in their smiles as they’re working,” Altukhaes said.

New Zealander Anna Korver, covered from head to toe in white dust, grinned as she told Arab News how excited she was to be part of the symposium.
Ogata expressed how happy he was to be in Saudi Arabia for the first time, and that he was enjoying the new experience. “It’s a nice place. The dry climate is a little different to what I’m used to, but the heat is something I’m accustomed to. It’s always a pleasure to work with other sculptors — I usually work alone in my studio back home, so I enjoy seeing everyone here together, and being able to watch them work.”
“It’s my first time in Saudi Arabia, and I was always curious about what it would be like. I had no idea what to expect when I first came, but I’ve been having a great time so far. The symposium is perfect. It is great to work with people who really know what we need as artists — we have all the assistance we need.
“My work is always sort of a narrative about women, and I often like to use the dress form as a symbol of femininity. I’ve chosen to incorporate the hijab into my design. It should give a feeling of lightness when it’s viewed.”
Al-Toukhais, who has had work displayed all over the Arab world, said the secret to becoming an excellent sculptor was patience and commitment. “Sculpting is not for those who are looking for instant gratification, or to become famous overnight. You have to have passion, and drive, but most of all you have to be patient.”
Dr. Fahd bin Mushayt, the executive chairman of the General Authority of the Embassies, thanked the minister of culture, Prince Badr bin Abdullah, for sponsoring the event. In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency, he added that more than 20 masterpieces would be produced by the end of the collaboration.
The symposium will run until March 22.


Mamdouh Saif, Saudi-born musician, composer and producer

Updated 20 August 2019
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Mamdouh Saif, Saudi-born musician, composer and producer

Mamdouh Saif is one of the most popular Arabic music composers. 

The 52-year-old, born in Saudi Arabia, is a composer, pianist and music producer.

He rose to fame through his partnership with Abdulmajeed Abdullah in 1990, when Saif became the keyboard player for the singer.

In 1994, he composed for Abdullah for the first time, and since then he has acted as a producer, artistic supervisor and music consultant.

In 2005, Saif visited India and said it changed his view on life. He launched his solo career in 2006, and furthered his studies at the Berklee College of Music in the US.

Some of Mamdouh’s most popular works include Ya taib Algalb (1996) and “Harmony” (2014).

He has also composed an album to accompany a science-fiction novel written by Ahmad Al-Aidroos, with each piece of music accompanying a specific part of the literature.

Recently, the Ministry of Culture’s Quality of Life Program announced it will set up academies, including two in the next two years, offering academic qualifications and enlarging  the Kingdom’s footprint in heritage, arts and crafts, and music.

The composer called these music academies “the core of music production and talent development in Saudi Arabia,” adding that the music industry was a large and diverse field and education in it was crucial.