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RIYADH: The open studio of the second Intermix Residency offers an entry into a realm of creative exploration, in which artists from around the world place the Kingdom’s natural landscapes and cultural elements at the center of their work.

Some 15 creators worked together over 10 weeks to create their own artistic vision, inspired by the fusion of visual arts and fashion, and centered on themes of transformation, innovation and sustainability.

Kuwaiti artist Maha Alasaker uses her own body as a loom as she reflects on the complex relationship between the body and the earth. (AN photos)

Italian visual artist Ivo Cotani told Arab News: “The residency took me (a lot) forward. I saw (it) not only in my productions, but by being myself in my art. I feel more mature and comfortable in what I do.”

His artwork titled “I Am Nature” is a combination of different mediums and is inspired by the local flora and fauna. In his studio, you can see small ceramic sculptures of oryxes, camels, eagles and other animals, abstract flower paintings, and animal-like flower masks made with the cooperation of two craftsmen.

HIGHLIGHT

The Intermix Residency program is fully funded and initiated by the Saudi Arabian Visual Arts Commission in collaboration with the Fashion Commission and takes place in the JAX district within Diriyah.

He added: “When I work, I always relate to the land in some way. I looked at the nature and the desert and also visited AlUla and saw the graves and the eagles there. From there I started to create and study the animals of the desert. I thought about embodying nature in some way, and then I thought about masks.”

Egyptian fashion designer Somaia Abolezz’s abstract wearable installations show elements of the caravan route from Egypt to Mecca. (AN photo)

The open studio’s artworks delve into the complexities of human experience, revealing how individuals embody the memories, emotions and codes of interpretation that shape the relationships between themselves, everyday life and the natural world, creating an archive of experimentation, research and possibility.

Saudi visual artist Maram Alsuliman’s work “Fragments of the Missing” reflects the background and interests of tradition. It examines the why, how and effect of forgotten, extinct traditions, which are only temporarily preserved through oral transmission.

Egyptian fashion designer Somaia Abolezz’s abstract wearable installations show elements of the caravan route from Egypt to Mecca. (AN photo)

He told Arab News: “My family is from Najran, but I was born and raised in Jeddah, so I have always been interested in learning more about Najran. Even though it is hard for me to learn about it, even though my parents are from there, how will others learn? I felt it was my responsibility to document and tell people through my art.”

Reflecting the sustainability theme of the residency, he uses discarded objects such as date seeds and broken coffee cups to create abstract shapes that are then screen-printed onto the bags. Natural black dye is made from split date seeds.

Egyptian fashion designer Somaia Abolezz’s abstract wearable installations show elements of the caravan route from Egypt to Mecca. (AN photo)

Alsuliman added: “My father brought back dates from Najran in these plastic bags. He brought her the food, but I wanted to use them to nurture my traditions.”

Alla Alsahli, a Syrian-Palestinian designer born and raised in the United States, uses material manipulation and repetition to tell stories rooted in culture and space.

Egyptian fashion designer Somaia Abolezz’s abstract wearable installations show elements of the caravan route from Egypt to Mecca. (AN photo)

His project Intermix explores the idea of ​​preservation through architecture in Riyadh and beyond. Inspired by the triangular geometric patterns of Najdi’s traditional adobe buildings, Alsahli creates fashion pieces from clay, rope and fabric.

Her first ensemble connects each handmade ceramic piece with thread to hold it together. The other is made of disposable muslin fabric, used as a prototype by most designers, tied with rope. The process of connecting individual elements symbolizes the hope of preservation.

As architecture goes through phases, construction is followed by deconstruction, so art reflects the process.

He told Arab News: “In the reconstruction phase – when people are trying to revive and bring this space to life – we see a lot here in Riyadh, with Diriyah and Al-Bujairi, where a lot of people want to hang on. this culture and style because it is so significant to Najd. I wanted to bring this into fashion to introduce the idea of ​​rebuilding.

“When I started the project, I thought a lot about Saudi Arabia, but I felt bad for not connecting it to myself and my identity. When I started thinking more about myself, I thought about Syria and Palestine, and that’s where the idea of ​​ruins and preservation came from.”

The program’s mission is to foster a common visual language that celebrates the expressive power of the visual arts and fashion design.

Kuwaiti artist Maha Alasaker focuses on the relationship between nature and culture, with a special emphasis on natural colors extracted from the earth. This led her to investigate herbal medicines and their historical use in women’s pain relief.

She presents a live, continuous performance, using her own body as a loom, while reflecting on the complex relationship between the body and the earth.

While Egyptian fashion designer Somaia Abolezz’s abstract wearable installations depict elements of the caravan route from Egypt to Mecca, Saudi artist Um Kalthoom Al-Alawi’s “Images of Memory” examines what is hidden and what is revealed through patterns printed on fabric.

The Intermix Residency program is fully funded and initiated by the Saudi Arabian Visual Arts Commission in collaboration with the Fashion Commission and takes place in the JAX district within Diriyah.

It aims to provide a platform for emerging and mid-career Saudi nationals, residents and international visual artists, fashion designers and curators to innovate, experiment and collaborate in a supportive creative environment.

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