DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia, May 16, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is excited to announce Iraqi-Finnish artist Adel Abidin as the winner of the 5th Ithra Art Prize. Abidin was selected from 10 shortlisted proposals for his idea for ON, a wall installation highlighting the complexity of capturing events for posterity. He receives $100,000 to bring his proposal to life, and the artwork will join Ithra’s collection.
ON explores the intricate relationship between history, memory and identity. “As I delve into the intangible aspects of history, I am confronted with the challenge of scarce reliable archival sources,” said Abidin. “This challenge is especially present in the context of Arab history, where much remains shrouded in ambiguity, allowing for a broad range of interpretations and augmentations. In studying the Zanj rebellion of 869AD in Iraq, I find a captivating example of this complexity.”
Abidin said reading the chain of oral accounts that have survived, he realized the reality of the revolt against the Abbasid Caliphate has been interrupted, modified and changed depending on the perspectives of those writing history.
The Helsinki-based artist holds a BA in painting from Baghdad’s Academy of Fine Arts and an MFA from Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts. His work explores the complex relationship between art, politics, memory and identity, while his cross-cultural background allows him to create a distinct visual language often laced with sarcasm and paradox while maintaining an ultimately humanistic approach.
“The Ithra Art Prize reaffirms Ithra’s commitment to developing the creative industries in the Kingdom, the region and the wider world,” said Farah Abushullaih, Head of Museum at Ithra. “As one of the largest art grants regionally, we support artists to develop important and meaningful work. The Prize aims to inspire creative thought, broaden cultural horizons and enable talent while empowering the art ecosystem.”
This year’s Ithra Art Prize was decided by art historian and gallery owner Dr. Andrée Sfeir-Semler; Balqees Fakhro, one of Bahrain’s most prominent artists; Farah Abushullaih, Head of Museum at Ithra; art critic, curator and art historian Murtaza Vali; and Dr. Ridha Moumni, Deputy Chair of Middle East and North Africa at Christie’s.
Previous winners are Ayman Zedani (2018), Daniah Al Saleh (2019), Fahad bin Naif (2020) and Nadia Kaabi-Linke (2021).