Maha Malluh

“My inspiration for art comes from my country, a land of contrasting images and ideas. Good art… forces you to pause, to contemplate and think harder about your surroundings.”

“Food is one of those things that brings people together. In Food For Thought, the baking trays, which would have once cradled scrumptious bread, are instead carrying passé cassettes. It is through listening to these audio cassettes that people gather.”

1959 born and lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Maha Malluh is greatly influenced by her spiritual connection to the historic region of Najd, with its strong religious and cultural heritage, colourful patterned fabrics, and old Najdi architecture, all elements that greatly influence her art.

Maha studied Fine Arts at SMU in Dallas, and has an MA degree in Design and Photography from De Anza College in California. She has been exhibiting both in Saudi Arabia and internationally since 1976. However, unlike most artists who have been working for a long time, who tend to adopt an artistic routine, Maha continues to radically develop her practice and her most recent work is in fact her most experimental.

Her artworks examine the emblematic and cultural symbols of Saudi Arabian civilization. She has always been inspired by her country, which she defines as a land of contrasting images and ideas. Her early work used traditional canvas, on which she created collages, using local fabrics and photographic images of traditional buildings.

However, over the past ten years, Maha has explored, experimented and expanded the art of the photogram, an early turn of the century photographic technique invented by Fox Talbot, which captures a photographic image without the use of a camera, by exposing photo-sensitive paper directly to a light source. The arrangement of objects interrupting the passage of light determines the photogram’s appearance. In her photogram series, Maha’s arrangements of personal items explore both how our objects define us and tell the story of the little things in life which are priceless and give us joy.  At the same time, they chronicle the great changes that have continued to occur in Saudi Arabia over recent decades, with the resulting clashes between tradition and modernity.

Maha’s most recent work include mixed media installations, which use found objects that can be seen as historic symbols of collective Saudi identity, amongst them are massive chinco dishes, cassette tapes of religious lectures, discarded oil barrels and metal doors typical of the region.

Maha had her first solo ‘Capturing Light’ at Gallery O in Riyadh (2007) and has exhibited in numerous international events, including several Edge of Arabia exhibitions; Venice (2009); TRANSiTION, Istanbul (2010); Terminal, Dubai (2011) and We Need to Talk, Jeddah (2012). She also participated in the British Museum’s Hajj exhibition (2012) and is included a number of important collections, including UBS, the British Museum, and BASMOCA.

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