The 4th edition of Tuwaiq Sculpture begins today, featuring 30 artists from around the world producing large-scale sculptures that will become permanent fixtures of Riyadh’s urban landscape as public art. Themed Energy of Harmony, this edition of the annual sculpture symposium will take place from January 8 to February 10 and features a live-sculpting event along with a public program of more than 65 activities, including panel discussions and interactive workshops that welcomes the public from January 10.
Participating sculptors for Tuwaiq Sculpture 2023 have been selected by a jury panel of experts from 650 applications received via open call. Hailing from 20 countries as far as Austria, China, France, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and Switzerland, as well as strong representation from Saudi Arabia, the artists have exhibited works internationally, with a number working as academics within the field of sculpture. Their proposed works consider concepts such as synergy, nature, and pose questions around the human experience, rendered in abstract and figurative forms.
Launched in 2019, Tuwaiq Sculpture is part of the broader Riyadh Art program, one of the largest public art projects undertaken in the world today. Riyadh Art seeks to turn the city into a “gallery without walls”, with more than 1,000 artworks to be displayed across Saudi Arabia’s capital. To date, Tuwaiq Sculpture has engaged with 90 renowned local and international artists and thousands of visitors.
For the first time since its launch, Tuwaiq Sculpture will be using stone sourced from Saudi Arabia, specifically granite and Riyadh stone, also known as sandstone. Sarah AlRuwayti, Tuwaiq Sculpture Project Manager, explained: “The decision to use stones from our local quarries poses symbolic significance for Tuwaiq Sculpture, specifically to highlight Saudi Arabia’s rich history with the medium, from ancient artifacts to rock carvings and modern-day sculpture. In addition, we wanted local and international artists to connect with material drawn directly from the country’s environment. These granite and sandstone, once transformed into beautiful artworks, will fill Riyadh’s public spaces, from parks to cultural and commercial areas for residents and visitors to see and appreciate.”
The sculptors will begin working on the stones on January 8, with the public invited to witness the sculpting live on a dedicated site in Durrat Al Riyadh, located in the north of the city. After the sculptural works have been completed, Tuwaiq Sculpture will culminate in an exhibition that runs from February 5 to 10, 2023.
In parallel to the creative process, more than 65 community engagement events will take place, including interactive workshops in the realms of calligraphy, lino print, wood sculpting, as well as stone and glass carving. A series of enriching panel discussions will explore a range of topics, from the techniques of sculpture and principles of design to urban ecology and the business of art. To reach a wide variety of audiences, Tuwaiq Sculpture’s community events will take place from January to February in two locations across Riyadh, Durrat and JAX District, with activities for beginner and intermediate levels conducted in English and Arabic.
Energy of Harmony, the theme of Tuwaiq Sculpture 2023, was developed by curator Marek Wolynski and reflects on the fundamental characteristic of human existence – the ongoing synthesis of opposing forces. It encourages artists to reimagine sculptural possibilities and capture manifestations of ephemeral processes of introducing, witnessing, and experiencing change.
Marek is also the chairperson of the jury panel who has selected the Tuwaiq Sculpture artists, consisting of Alaa Tarabzouni, co-founder of Very Public and an architect, artist, and curator, whose practice focuses on urbanism and the built environment; Ali Al-Tokhais, a sculptor with a practice spanning 40 years and an expert in stones originating from Saudi Arabia; Dr. Effat Fadag, an acclaimed academic whose work revolves around the arts, culture, and heritage of Saudi Arabia; and Johannes von Stumm, a critically acclaimed sculptor, President of the Oxford Art Society and Past President of the Royal Society of Sculptors in the UK.
Participating artists will contribute to Tuwaiq Sculpture’s community engagement program, which will host school and university visits, providing students direct exposure to various sculptural practices, as well as sculpting skills, tools, techniques, and materials.
The full artist list is as follows:
Ana Maria Negară
Marino Di Prospero
Mohammed Al Thagafi
Press release from Tuwaiq Sculpture