Islamic Art Biennale Continues at Jeddah International Airport

15 February 2023

The covenantal link between art and faith remains an inexhaustible source of creativity. Throughout the centuries of Islamic history, Islamic art, in all its forms, colors and spheres, has shown the diversity of cultures of the peoples professing this religion.

Islamic art, with its flowing abstract symbols and spiritual elements, has always facilitated the release of the artist’s individual creativity. It has evolved over centuries, and today we are witnessing new forms of its expression. With the development of technology the artist is synthesizing it with traditional Islamic art. The exhibition held as part of Islamic Art Biennale at Jeddah International Airport tells us all about that.

The biennale began its first session at the pilgrimage terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, according to the SPA Saudi Press Agency. It should be noted that the terminal itself has rather interesting architecture and design, which were worked on by the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill architectural firm in 1981. The designers won the Aga Khan Prize for Architecture in 1983 for their work. This masterpiece terminal receives millions of pilgrims every year on their way to God’s Holy House from all over the world.

As a global artistic, cultural and creative event, the biennale revives various forms of cultural, intellectual and artistic life that still draw their inspiration and roots from the “first house” created for people.

As the cradle of Islam, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is uniquely positioned as the custodian of two sacred mosques and the religious and historical monuments surrounding them. The phrase “first house” refers to the Holy Kaaba in Mecca Al-Muqarrama, to which Muslims turn in their prayers every day and night.

According to the official website, the themes of the current biennale are qibla and hijra. Together, as a source of creative inspiration, they represent a harmonious dialogue between sacred places and worship rituals that inspire participating artists from around the world to create.

The first part of the biennale aims for spiritual polarization in which we are united by our daily prayers and hajj. In a group of consecutive galleries we can contemplate the meaning of our worship through the prism of ancient artifacts and contemporary works of art. The exhibition is also dedicated to the last moments of human life and concludes with a display of two precious artifacts brought from the Kaaba.

Hajj in one way or another involves immigration, loss of home, but we can look at it as an opportunity to affirm our belonging to all humanity, and as a bridge that connects homeland and all the countries of the world. This is why this part of the biennale takes place at the Pilgrims’ Terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. It features artworks specially commissioned by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation to reflect the issue of immigration in many aspects, from cultural exchange to cultural intermingling.

The exhibition features rare artifacts from Mecca Al-Muqarram and Al-Madina Al-Munawara, which we will cover in the next article.

The biennale ends on 23 April 2023.



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