Artist Maha Malluh.
Theme-special’ featured Saudi artist, Maha Malluh, whose unique exploratory art in various mediums inspires conversations and stories.who reinterprets the beauty of nature and captures its many colorful stories through her brushes.
One of Saudi Arabia’s most unique artists, one that explores, expands and experiments with various mediums, Maha Malluh’s creations leave an impression and tell multiple stories. Born in Jeddah in 1959, the Riyadh-based artist has been exhibiting for over three decades and is greatly influenced by her spiritual connection to the historic region of Najd, with its strong religious and cultural heritage, colorful patterned fabrics, and old Najdi architecture.
From collages to photography to reinterpreting and recycled objects from our homes and lives, Ms. Malluh is known to go digging through flea markets, deserted construction sites and various locations to find elements that resonate
and capture her and our imagination. Her latest work of mixed media installations, which use the found objects, can be seen as historic symbols of collective Saudi identity, amongst them are massive chinco dishes, Aluminum pots, cassette tapes of religious lectures, discarded oil barrels and metal doors typical of the region.
“The objects we use at home for instance tell our stories, and capture our history, the same way objects in museums around the world tell the stories of different civilizations,” she said. “When an object can no longer be used for its original purpose, a new function through ‘adaptive re- use’ may be the only chance for it to preserve and communicate the heritage in term of its significance.”
The installation featured here of old aluminum pots hanging closely together off the wall— pots that have been used by Arabs throughout history for cooking—is titled ‘Food for Thought - Al-Muallaqat.’ It explicitly makes reference to the Suspended Odes or Hanging Poems, the 6th century pre-Islamic Arabic poetry traditionally hung on the Kaaba at Makkah. “Objects’ have the ability to be ‘distributed’ as they are given the purpose to be allowed to travel great distances for them to communicate with other ‘objects’ from different countries or cultures.”
The co-existence of the modern and the traditional is a frequent motif in her photograms, such as featuring camels
and satellites together in ‘The Road To Makkha, screened and barcoding’ series. Her body of work continues to explore the dialogue between the past and the present, breaking barriers and inspiring conversations. Ms. Maha studied Fine Art at SMU Dallas Texas, USA, has a BA degree in English Literature from King Saud University in Riyadh and a certificate in Design and Photography from De Anza College in Cupertino, California. She had exhibited in numerous exhibitions within the Kingdom and internationally, and her work is included in international collections such as Tate Modern, British Museum, Abu Dhabi Louvre, SFMOMA-Francisco Museum of Modern San Francisco, USA and many others.