60-year-old Awatif al-Qunibat said that people used to say that it is impossible in Saudi Arabia because it is forbidden in Islam. Now this exhibition is really happening in the heart of Riyadh.
Saudi artist “Awatif al-Qunibat” proudly walks through a gallery during an exhibition of her work in Riyadh, where humanoid sculptures and pottery are a sign of relaxation of decades of cultural and religious restrictions.
The exhibition also includes clay-carved faces, some looking with open eyes, some with spectacles, and figures of women dressed in traditional dress carved on red stones.
“Who would have thought that one day this exhibition would be here at Al Alia in the center of Riyadh,” said Awatif al-Qunibat, 60, who is setting an example for women in the art field in Saudi Arabia’s conservative, male-dominated society. ?” “People used to say it’s impossible because it’s forbidden in Islam. Now it’s really happening in the heart of Riyadh.”
In the past, sculpture was prohibited in Saudi Arabia for religious reasons. However, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has reduced the influence of Wahhabism on Saudi society and the arts, and has introduced a number of reforms to empower women.
The American-educated Al-Awatif said he created a private gallery under his home in 2009 after a ban on public display of sculptures. His artworks are now welcomed in major galleries. Al-Awatif’s works of art still show signs of restraint, including sculptures of chains.
“For me, it was two shocks, one before and one after (bans). We are a generation that has gone through many changes, from complete restrictions to complete freedom,” he said. (Courtesy of Al Arabiya.net)
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