Ahmed Mater

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Ahmed Mater
Ahmed Mater
Born (1979-07-25) July 25, 1979 (age 40)
Abha, Saudi Arabia
EducationMedical doctor, King Khalid University, physician, MB BChir, visual art, Al Miftaha Arts Village, IVLP, USA, Washington, D.C.
Known forConceptual art, installation art, painting
Notable work
Magnetism, Evolution of Man, Yellow Cow, Illuminations, Desert of Pharan, 100 Found Objects,
Movement[[Post-m�odern art]]; Hurufiyya movement

Ahmed Mater (born 1979, Tabuk, Saudi Arabia) is a Saudi artist and physician.[1] His mediums are photography, calligraphy, painting, installation, performance and video. His work, which explores history, the narratives and aesthetics of Islamic culture, and addresses consumerism and transformation taking place in the region and its effects on geopolitics, has attracted an international audience.[1] In 2003, he cofounded "Edge of Arabia", an independent arts initiative dedicated to promoting the appreciation of contemporary Arab art and culture, with a focus on Saudi Arabia.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Ahmed Mater was born in 1979 in Tabuk in the north west of Saudi Arabia on the Jordanian border. He is the first child of Mater Ahmed Al-Ziad, a sergeant in the Saudi Arabian Army, and Fatimah Hassan Abdullah Aseeri, a calligrapher and painter of traditional Aseeri houses. Ahmed has two brothers, Bandar and Mohamed, and four sisters, Aicha, Jawaher, Jamila and Reem.[3]

In the 1990s Mater was given a studio space in Abha at the al-Meftaha artists' village.[4]

He splits his time between the Saudi Arabian cities of Abha, Jeddah and Makkah.[1]

Mater's wife, Arwa Alneami, is also an artist. Together they run pharan.studio – a salon, artists' studios and "cultural mining project" in Jeddah.[5]


Mater's work has been exhibited internationally[6] and acquired by major international museums. Illuminations, acquired by The British Museum, is a series that combines explicit notes from his medical education with images of the Kaaba and a mosque, distributed as a collage around blue and black x-ray images. The work seems to ask the viewer if humanity is more than just the structure of the body.[7]

In 2006, Mater mounted an installation titled The Yellow Cow products,[8] a work that address ecological challenges of modern urbanized society. According to the artist, "The cow with the yellow color was used as an expression of religious heritage."[8]

His Desert of Pharan[9] series features photographs and films gathered over five-years, documenting the changes taking place in Islam's holiest city. Mater considers the unprecedented redevelopment of the Masjid Al-Haram, including a multibillion-dollar complex of luxury hotels, malls and apartments.[4]

Magnetism is a black cuboid magnet surrounded by iron filings to represent Hajj, Muslim's annual pilgrimage which includes the circumambulation of the Kaaba.[4]


Magnetism installation, 2016
  • Selected Solo Shows

2001 Landing on the Earth's Surface, Al-Maseef Culture Club, Abha, KSA

2003 X-Ray Project – 6th Saudi Malwan Contest Tour, Jeddah, Beirut, Sidon and Manama (Jun10 – Sept 25)

2004 Standing in Front of You, King Khaled University, Abha, KSA.

2004 Chewing (Mudgah), Almiftaha Arts Village, Abha, KSA.

2004 The End – Al Meftaha Arts Village, Abha (Dec15 – Dec30)

2006 Ahmed Mater Al Ziad Aseeri -Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, London (May 12)

2006 Son of Aseer- Al Meftaha Arts Village, Abha (Oct10 – Oct30)

2009 Illumination, Art Space, Dubai (Mar15 – Apr 15)

2010 Ahmed Mater, The Vinyl Factory Gallery, London (Oct 11 – 31)

2013 100 Found Objects, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE[10]

2016 Symbolic Cities: The Work of Ahmed Mater, Smithsonian, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Washington, USA[11]

2016 Evolution of Man at Standing Rock, North Dakota[12]

2017 Mitochondria: Powerhouses at GALLERIA CONTINUA San Gimignano, Italy (September 23, 2017 – January 7, 2018)[13]

2017 Ahmed Mater: Mecca Journeys, Brooklyn Museum, New York City (December 1, 2017 – April 8, 2018)[14]

Publications and monographs[edit]

2006 Word into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East, British Museum Press[15]

2009 ADACH Platform for Visual Arts in Venice, Catherine David[16]

2009 New Vision: Arab Contemporary Art in the 21st Century, Thames & Hudson[17]

2010 Art of the Middle East: Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World and Iran, Merrell Publishing[18]

2010 Ahmed Mater (Monograph), Booth Clibborn Editions[19]

2012 Edge of Arabia, Contemporary Art from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Booth-Clibborn Editions[20]

2012 Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam, British Museum Press[21]

2016 Desert of Pharan: Unofficial Histories Behind the Mass Expansion of Mecca, Lars Müller Publishing[22][23][24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Young Global Leaders – Ahmed Mater". World Economic Forum. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  2. ^ Scarborough, James (July 21, 2013). "A Conversation With Ahmed Mater, Co-founder of Edge of Arabia". HuffPost. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  3. ^ Booth-Clibborn, Edward (2010). Ahmed Mater. UK: Booth-Clibborn Editions. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-86154-318-9.
  4. ^ a b c Batty, David (October 4, 2012). "Contemporary Saudi artists break down old 'safety' barriers". The Guardian. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  5. ^ Fadel, Leila (September 9, 2015). "An Art Scene Flourishes Behind Closed Doors in Saudi Arabia". All Things Considered, NPR. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  6. ^ "Ahmed Mater I Saudi Artist". Ahmed Mater I Saudi Artist. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  7. ^ "Ahmed Mater Al-Ziad". Word into Art. The British Museum. Archived from the original on December 3, 2010. Retrieved March 16, 2010.
  8. ^ a b "The Yellow cow products". Universes in Universe. Retrieved March 16, 2010.
  9. ^ Mater, Ahmed (September 14, 2016). "Behind the hajj: Ahmed Mater's photographs of a Mecca in flux". The Guardian. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  10. ^ "collection – Sharjah Art Foundation". sharjahart.org. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  11. ^ Cari. "'Symbolic Cities' Captures Changing Landscapes of Riyadh, Mecca". washdiplomat.com. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  12. ^ Monzani, Caterina; Gormley, Jess; Lonardi, Matteo; Stapleton, Stephen; Culturunners; theguardian.com (December 6, 2016). "Saudi artist: Standing Rock protesters are warning us to save what we can – video". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  13. ^ "Ahmed Mater – San Gimignano | My Art Guides". myartguides.com. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
  14. ^ "Brooklyn Museum: Ahmed Mater: Mecca Journeys". brooklynmuseum.org. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
  15. ^ "Word into Art: artists of the modern Middle East" (PDF). The British Museum. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  16. ^ Binder, Universes in Universe – Gerhard Haupt & Pat. "ADACH Platform for Visual Arts in Venice announces debut presence at the 53rd Venice Arts Biennale". universes-in-universe.org. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  17. ^ Amirsadeghi, Hossein; Mikdadi, Salwa; Shabout, Nada M (January 1, 2009). Newvision: Arab contemporary art in the 21st century. London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 9780500976982.
  18. ^ Eigner, Saeb; Masters, Christopher; Hadid, Zaha; Caussé, Isabelle (January 1, 2010). Art of the Middle East: modern and contemporary art of the Arab world and Iran. London; New York: Merrell. ISBN 9781858945002.
  19. ^ Mater, Ahmed; Booth-Clibborn, Edward; Stapleton, Stephen (January 1, 2010). Ahmed Mater. London: Booth-Clibborn. ISBN 9781861543189.
  20. ^ Stapleton, Stephen A; Booth-Clibborn, Edward; Mousawi, Aya; Al-Turki, Abdullah; Lloyd-Evans, Miriam; Edge of Arabia (Project) (January 1, 2012). Edge of Arabia. ISBN 9781861543233.
  21. ^ Porter, Venetia; British museum (Londres) (January 1, 2012). Hajj journey to the heart of Islam: [exhibition, held at the British Museum, London, from 26 January to 15 April 2012]. London: British Museum Press. ISBN 9780714111766.
  22. ^ "Behind the Hajj: Ahmed Mater's photographs of a Mecca in flux". The Guardian. September 14, 2016. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  23. ^ "A Physician-Turned-Artist Offers a Diagnosis for Islam's Holiest City". The New York Times. December 2, 2016. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  24. ^ "Desert of Pharan – Lars Müller Publishing".

External links[edit]