Abdulhalim Radwi

References to Saudi Arabia’s desert life, folklore and traditional architecture characterize the art of Abdul Halim Radwi, one of the kingdom’s most-respected artists. Born in the holy city of Mecca, Radwi was among a generation of artists who witnessed the establishment of Saudi Arabia’s first modern art associations in the late 1960s. Among the first Saudi artists sponsored to pursue a degree in art abroad, Radwi’s work is guided by both modernist sensibilities and cultural heritage. Radwi is perhaps best known for 15 monumental outdoor sculptures adorning the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, including Inkwell, Pen and Paper, which reproduces these objects on a large scale. The artist also engaged with the still life genre as in the 1975 painting, Still Life with Fish, in which he uses paint and sand to produce a flattened image of two fish in a loose geometric composition. Signing the piece with both Arabic and Latin script demonstrates that Radwi was painting for an international audience. While the Arabian Peninsula took steps to endorse the arts later than in some neighbouring Arab countries, from the 1960s important art institutions emerged in Saudi Arabia. Radwi, who obtained a doctorate from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid in 1979, was director of Jeddah’s Centre for Fine Arts from 1968 to 1974.