Fahad bin Naif’s Ithra Art Prize-winning commission unveiled at Art Dubai 2021

- Saudi-based artist’s Rakhm makes its debut at region’s premier art fair

- The Ithra Art Prize is one of the most substantial globally, with a grant of up to $100,000

- The program supports the production of original content by Saudi or Saudi-based artists

DHAHRAN, SAUDI ARABIA, MARCH 30, 2021 The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is excited to present Fahad bin Naif as the latest winner of the Ithra Art Prize, one of the newest and most substantial prizes globally, in partnership with Art Dubai. His winning installation, Rakhm, is being shown to the public for the first time at Art Dubai from March 29- April 3, 2021, before joining Ithra’s permanent collection.

Rakhm, meaning “incubation” in Arabic, is a highlight of the 14th Art Dubai, one of the most globally prominent contemporary art fairs. The installation aims to conceptually preserve a nursery as both an urban typology and “incubates” as an environmental micro-economy. The title mirrors both the sensitivity and urgency of the content, safely and carefully incubating an intelligent green infrastructure.

Launched in 2017, the Ithra Art Prize at Art Dubai supports the development of the art industry in the Kingdom and beyond while fostering cross-cultural engagement through the showcasing of Saudi and Saudi-based talent on an international platform. This is the third iteration of the prize, which is held every year by Ithra. The Prize celebrates contemporary artists through an open call, and the winner is granted up to $100,000 in the commission of a single work of art that will be shown to a global audience.

Saudi-based architect and urban designer Bin Naif creates architecturally conscious art projects. A graduate of Central Saint Martins – University of the Arts London, his final-year project was nominated for a Royal Institute of British Architects’ regional award.

Rakhm is a Polytunnel nursery that mimics the existing urban nurseries in the Kingdom with endemic plants and flowers instead of conventional foreign houseplants. Unlike most nurseries, however, the viewer can only experience the exterior of the nursery, which mirrors the general local approach to xeriscaping where local foliage is not an environmental or aesthetic priority. The experience of the viewer from the outside also highlights the notion that contextually there is very little interaction between local human inhabitants and local plant-life and the importance on an environmental level of changing this narrative.

The Ithra Art Prize winner is decided by a global jury of experts, including artists, curators, academics and art historians. The panel for the third iteration of the program was artist, art historian, freelance writer and art consultant Eiman Elgibreen; independent curator Maya El Khalil; Nada Shabout, art historian and founding president of the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art from the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA); independent curator and art historian Reem Fadda; and independent curator and architect Tarek Abou El Fetouh.

UAE-based Saudi conceptual artist Ayman Zedani was the inaugural winner of the 2018 edition with his spatial installation Mēm. Saudi-born London-based Daniah Al Saleh was the winner of the second edition. She won the award for Sawtam – a digital, audio-visual presentation based on the phonemes of the Arabic language.