Evolution of Man



Custom-made LED light-box

79.2 × 59.4 × 5 cm

A silhouetted gas pump mutates into a human x-ray, a gun to its head, before morphing back again. Unlike the progression of evolution, this foreboding form is caught in a relentless and destructive cycle without reprieve.

Here a succinct, urgent warning against an over-reliance on the petrodollar, a destructive addiction Mater witnessed in Saudi Arabia as it embraced and feted its fortune as a rentier state. These 2010 x-rays were a diagnosing doctor’s perspective – at that time, an apparently inexorable prognosis – that the environmental and social risks of oil were so vast that they threatened to throw the irrepressible march of evolution into a spiral of destruction.

This cautionary chiasmus has proven itself a powerful premonition of the changing fate of the Kingdom. Today, Saudi Arabia imagines a diversified future, a post-rentier state where new socio-economic ambitions wean the Kingdom off its oil dependence.

“I am a doctor and confront life and death every day, and I am a countryman and at the same time. I am the son of this strange, scary oil civilization. In ten years our lives changed completely. For me, it is a drastic change that I experience every day.”
Ahmed Mater

Hoisting the Flag at Standing Rock

How the work made its way into the world, in a gesture of global solidarity.

A CULTURUNNERS film, in partnership with the Guardian

Watch the film
Standing Rock Ahmed mater DSC1052


Grey Borders/Grey Frontiers

Torstrasse 1, Berlin, Germany

Ahmed Mater at Vinyl Factory

Vinyl Factory, London, UK

Edge of Arabia

Galerie Krinzinger

We Need to Talk

Al Furisiya Marina & Mall, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

EOA Edition #01

Edge of Arabia Gallery, London, UK

Phantom Punch

Bates College Museum of Art, Maine, USA

Cities of Conviction

Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City, USA

Desert to Delta

Art Museum of University of Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Drum roll, please

King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia


Sanat Līmani, Istanbul, Turkey


Ahmed began these works when working as a doctor as Aseer Central Hospital, where he would deal with X Rays every day. Taking the visual language of medicine, Evolution of Man becomes a diagnosis for Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil.

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