Large art sculpture discovered under the rubble in Jeddah

Tue, 2021-11-02 23:31

MAKKAH: After more than four decades, the work of one of Saudi Arabia’s most renowned artists was discovered by accident under the rubble in Jeddah’s historic center.
Hidden behind a maze and mess of buildings, kiosks, and shops, construction workers were stunned to find the large abstract stone sculpture with detailed engravings.
“The work appears to be from the great artist Abdulhalim Radwi and dates back to 1981,” Saudi Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud tweeted.
The artwork was discovered during the ongoing Historic Jeddah Revival Project, which plans to redevelop the area to become a hub for business, cultural projects, and a destination for entrepreneurs.
“This piece of art has remained hidden for four decades, and now it has re-emerged again,” plastic artist Ahlam Mashhadi, a member of the Saudi Art and Culture Association in Taif, said. “It is delightful to see how much interest and care has been given to this beautiful legacy.”
Plastic artist Faisal Al-Khudidi, director of the Culture and Art Association, described Radwi as one of the country’s pioneer artists and the founder of the Saudi art scene.
Radwi, who died from a heart attack inside his Jeddah home in 2006, held his first exhibition in Saudi Arabia but struggled to prove his presence in a country where it was difficult to spread and recognize art. He was considered to be one of the founders of Saudi plastic art and the first to join educational missions in the arts.


Historic Jeddah Revival Project uncovers brilliant sculptural work by Abdulhalim Radwi, considered to be one of Saudi Arabia’s most renowned artists.

Al-Khudidi said Radwi had a unique style and built his works on the philosophy of rotation and magnetic attraction.
“He adopted the pivotal rotation around the Kaaba as a method in his works, so he worked on his art consciously. His works were varied, including painting and sculptures, and perhaps the sculpture that was found recently in historic Jeddah shows his mastery and creativity at a time when it was difficult to deal with sculptural materials and tools,” Al-Khudidi told Arab News.
“Radwi was able to impose his style and had distinguished works combined with abundant production, which made his works popular.”
Mashhadi and her colleagues were surprised by the discovery. Similarly, they were also delighted to see the work of a pioneer in their field get the attention it deserved.
“The features of this unique sculptural work are clear with its delicate details and inscriptions,” she told Arab News.
“It was inspired by the landmarks and nature of the city of Jeddah, in addition to Qur’anic verses and phrases that were engraved in an exquisite spontaneous manner. It added aesthetic and decorative elements along with popular symbols that characterized the region and added a lot of beauty and attraction to the work.”
Radwi had his work displayed at plastic arts exhibitions around the world and had more than 100 private shows over the course of his career. He is perhaps best known for 15 monumental outdoor sculptures in Jeddah, which reproduced objects such as inkwell, pen, and paper on a large scale.

The Historic Jeddah Revival Project plans to redevelop the area to become a hub for cultural projects. (Supplied)
The Historic Jeddah Revival Project plans to redevelop the area to become a hub for cultural projects. (Supplied)
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