“Every civilization is judged by its art. When we look back on what we have done artistically at this time we will see that there were some people raising their voices. I think that many years from now we will still be reading about Abdulnasser Gharem.”
Hamza Serafi, Co-founder Athr Gallery
Abdulnasser Gharem: Art of Survival explores the extraordinary life and work of one of the Gulf's most radical young artists. Gharem, who had no formal art training, and whose work is now in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture & Information, is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Saudi Arabian army. He is widely regarded as a pioneer in the region for his firebrand intellectual courage and innovative use of materials, including rubber stamps, a collapsed bridge, and an invasive tree.
Lavishly illustrated and written by Henry Hemming, the book takes readers on a physical and conceptual journey into Gharem's world. The story begins with a recent Christie's Auction in Dubai and the sale of Message/Messenger which made Gharem the world record breaking living Arab artist and also earned him the label 'the Rock Star of Arab Art'. From the hectic glamour of the international art world, Hemming then travels with Gharem deep into Saudi society and landscape: to Aseer, Jizan, Jeddah, Riyadh and eventually back to Gharem's home tribe in Sadra-Eyt, recounting the artist's break from tradition as well as the stories and inspirations behind key works.
The tale of Gharem’s creative journey is not the familiar plod of evolving artistic practice, safe within the hermetic confines of a studio. It couldn’t be more different. The story of this man takes us to the very heart of what it is to stand against the tide, to innovate, to do so fearlessly in the streets and amongst the people; and precisely what happens when an artist positions himself both at the heart of society and at the margins. Gharem says, “I have no studio so my Studio is where I can find people. When I see the opportunity I go.”