For thousands of years, civilizations left their marks on rocks, walls and monuments. Those stories were left behind for future generations to see and learn from. Therefore in a way, graffiti art is an ancient art, an art of expressing an opinion, capturing a story in words scribbled or drawings carved along the walls. I have always been inspired by graffiti art and its many messages, and made it my goal to transform and develop graffiti art in Saudi Arabia —that for the longest time was viewed as something negative and disruptive—to reach a positive stage so that the drawings are not scratched over and removed. One of the street art projects I led in 2018, “Al-Fan Al-Sharqi” —where 20 Saudi artists
transformed the Sabykha neighborhood in old Al Khobar over a span of 10 days into an open art gallery — has become a tourist destination. Those who live there, enjoy walking by the colorful range of art, and regularly people stop to take photos and selfies with the street art there. The Sabykha neighborhood is an old popular area, home to the oldest and largest Saudi families, a place with many memories. We obtained permission from Al Khobar municipality, and I was worried about the challenge of such a busy place, disturbing people and changing weather, but we all managed to pull through and the neighbourhood was happy to welcome the colorful new residents.
The project inspired many to contact me to add art to their homes and their neighbourhoods, and there is a project coming very soon that will transform new public locations —such as bridges and tunnels—into places of awe.
Graffiti and street art is one of the most beautiful arts, and each design needs to be a careful study of a balance between heritage and modernity—ultimately telling a country’s story and evolution.
I believe that art is able to change the place and create an atmosphere of beauty and vitality, whether it is a painting or a mural or graffiti, all public art has an important impact on its viewer.
You do not have to be an artist in order to enjoy art. Art is for everyone, it is food for the soul, art is life. As an artist myself, I understand the power of art in reforming our way of thinking, and challenging us to see beyond the obvious. Art, is one of the most beautiful means of expressions, and it is limitless.
Art is not a difficult equation or a difficult law to understand. Art is a deep sense of understanding the world around us, and discovering the many layers of beauty and complexity.
Written by Madawi Al-Baz, artist and owner of Dawi Gallery in Al Khobar, who launched street art initiatives in the Eastern Province, titled “Al-Fan Al-Sharqi” and soon to lead other street art projects in other parts of Saudi Arabia.