It is difficult to ignore the increasing sophistication of the contemporary Islamic and Middle Eastern art, which is today being exposed to the world by a variety of highly innovative artworks from and about such a culturally rich region. One of the Saudi artists that have succeeded to standout amongst many is Ahmed Angawi. Ahmed is a young bright artist who rose from the heart of Mecca, and took his inspirations from a city where conservatism and modernity are interestingly two sides of one coin.
Since he earned his Bachelor degree in Industrial Design from the United States and currently works as an Associate Director in AMAR for Architecture and Design Studies, it is seen that he is approach is inspired by combining his academic background with his Islamic nature and thinking.
His perception of Mecca being the cradle of Islamic traditions accompanied with global trends is easily recognized in his designs of products that seek to creatively merge the Eastern with the West; such as a chandelier that is made out of “Sheesha” pipes, along with his collaboration with the sports company, Puma, to design a sports jacket that has the touches of the traditional Saudi “Mishlah”.
Starting from the idea to help preserve local Arab craftsmen, Ahmad developed the Coffee or Tea glass – a product that can be adapted to both kinds of drink using old craftsmen technique. The product is original, contemporary and universal.
Ahmed’s uniqueness lies is his drive to cause a social difference through encouraging people to speak out their thoughts and desires. This was clear in his latest project “Street Pulse”. The “Street Pulse” installation featuring 3,600 microphones, is one that is characterized by the ongoing involvement of different people’s voices across the Middle East coming out of microphones; each microphone represented Arabic “street pulse”. In his own explanation of his project, Ahmed believes that “The Microphones on the streets offer an opportunity to speak and express oneself… instead of measuring the vitals of the body, would measure the pulse of the street, to be silent is to flatline…”. So far, this project has been exhibited twice; in “Edge of Arabia Jeddah: We Need to Talk”, as well as in “Edge of Arabia #COMETOGETHER: London”, and followed by a large number of positive reviews.
Observing Ahmed’s work, it’s crystal clear now that the Saudi society and its rapidly changing art scene are today giving themselves the opportunity to openly express more than anytime before.
WORDS: ERUM AL HOWAISH
ILLUSTRATION: REEM AL HAJIRI