Join us for a two-day Arabic symposium bringing together pioneering Gulf artists, curators and researchers to explore the role of Arab Gulf Art Groups in shaping modern art movements, paying particular attention to the ‘Friends of Plastic Art Group’ – their stories, insights, perspectives, challenges and opportunities during the 20th century. 

The series of panel discussions offer the public nuanced perspectives around the intricacies of modern art history, the influence and impact Khaleeji voices, identity and aspirations have had, continue to and will have in shaping visual arts production and culture within a regional and global context. 

An archival display, held in the Jameel Library, titled ‘Formative Friends Group: Glimpses from the Archive’ is also part of the public programme, highlighting pivotal moments of the artist group’s activities through a selection of photographs, exhibitions catalogue, books and magazine extracts that capture broader public image making in the GCC and beyond. 

The target audience for the programme are academia, students, artists, curators, researchers and the curious Jeddah community with a vested interest in modern art history, movements and education. 

The public programme is developed in  collaboration with writer and researcher Ghadeer Sadeq, the recipient of the inaugural Art Jameel Research Grant: Mapping the Arts in KSA (1940-2000). 

Programme Agenda

Please note, the symposium will be delivered in Arabic
Tea & coffee served throughout

Friday 17 May

Ground floor

Welcome and context
Uns Kattan, Deputy Director and Head of Research and Learning

Ghadeer Sadeq, Writer and Researcher

5:15 – 6:45pm
Panel discussion: A walk in memory lane: the stories of the formative art friends

The discussion will centre on the artists’ personal experiences in navigating the art scene, the opportunities and challenges faced and the wider process of image making across the Gulf, from tradition and heritage into new realms that shaped Khaliji art as a whole. 

Speakers: Artists and members of the Friends of the Plastic Art Group Abdel Rasool Salman (Kuwait, founder), Yousuf Ahmad (Qatar, co-founder), Nabeel Najdi (KSA, co-founder) and Fahad Alrubaiq (KSA). Moderated by Ghadeer Sadeq.

First floor

7 – 8pm
Tour of archival display Formative Friends Group: Glimpses from the Archive 

Saturday 18 May

Ground floor

11am – 12:30pm
Panel discussion: Female artists perspective: what does it mean to be a female artist in the 80s?

The discussion will explore the themes of intersectionality, identity and inclusion through the lens of female artists from the Friends of the Plastic group prior to the turn of the millenia. More importantly, it will shed light on their personal challenges, expectations and barriers they faced and overcame as working artists and mothers, given gender bias, discrimination and societal norms at the time.  

Speakers: Artists and members of the Friends of the Plastic Art Group Dr. Najat Makki (UAE), Balqees Fakhro (Bahrain) and Thuraya AlBaqsami (Kuwait). Moderated by artist, curator and educator Dr. Effat Abdullah Fadag (KSA). 

1 – 2pm
Lunch break

2:30 – 4pm
Panel discussion: The Role of Formative Art Friends in Reshaping the Image of ‘G.C.C’ Art Production and Visual Culture

The discussion will delve into how the formation of the GCC, as a political body, influenced the cultural and artistic development in the Gulf, and more specifically its role in empowering, affording opportunities and uniting the artist group to showcase artworks beyond the peninsula. A chance to reflect on the group’s success in changing and redefining visual culture across the region and the trajectory of modern art then, now and what’s to come in the future. 

Speakers: Artists and members of the Friends of the Plastic Art Group Abdel Rasool Salman (Kuwait, founder), Yousuf Ahmad (Qatar, co-founder) and Hassan Al Mulla (Qatar). Moderated by artist, curator and art critic Abdulaziz Ashour (KSA).