Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Mater is a practicing medical doctor in the southern city of Abha who has created a body of incomparable artworks that examine modern medicine and Islamic faith. Painting, calligraphy, photography, installation and performance art all figure in Mater’s portfolio, which merges his dual passions for science and art, in a distinctly Arabic manner.
Mater is recognised for a piece that he exhibited in the British Museum’s Word into Art exhibition in 2006 depicting an X-ray print of a torso with the image of the Kaaba positioned in the place of the human heart.
Born in 1979, Mater uses x-ray images that have been discarded from the hospital where he works and paints on paper prepared with tea and pomegranate – traditionally used on religious manuscripts – to achieve a luminous effect. “So many religions around the world share this concept of giving light, not darkness. It is one religious idea that has reached mankind through many different windows,” Mater told Nafas art magazine in 2008 of some of his pieces.
Mater is from the traditional village of Rujal Al-Ma’a in Aseer, in the mountainous area of Saudi Arabia, which has also informed his work. His pieces have been displayed in solo and group shows in Turkey, Germany, Italy, Egypt, the United Kingdom and the Gulf region.