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Installation images

Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving in the Islamic Court
LACMA, Los Angeles, California, USA
5 June - 5 September 2011

Edge of Arabia has recently donated and facilitated the acquisitions of the Illumination Diptych (Ottoman Waqf) by Ahmed Mater to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 

Director of LACMA Michael Govan commented, ‘I first encountered contemporary Saudi art during a trip to Riyadh in January, 2010, when I had the opportunity to see Edge of Arabia in its initial iteration. I was deeply impressed by what I saw and also by what I heard from the artists themselves. At the time, I thought that... one of Ahmed Mater’s Illuminations would make wonderful additions to LACMA’s collection. I am therefore delighted that one year later both artists are represented at LACMA. We are especially grateful for the gift of Ahmed Mater’s Illumination Dyptich (Ottoman Waqf), which was made expressly for us and looks to be one of the finest examples in this series.’

Last month Ahmed Mater’s dyptich Illumination was included in LACMA’s Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts, a major international exhibition which explored Islamic art through the universal tradition of gift giving.

Linda Komaroff, curator of Islamic Art at LACMA gives an account of the acquisition:

‘The artists in the exhibition were asked to interpret the underlying theme of the exhibition—generosity. In his Illumination series, Ahmed Mater draws inspiration from the Islamic arts of the book, in particular manuscripts of the Qur’an, whose pages were decorated with illuminated borders, chapter headings, and verse markers. He even includes the word waqf, a notation often found in manuscripts of the Qur’an, which in legal terms designates a charitable donation. Generally a small scale and intimate art form, Mater radically magnifies his illuminated page, creating instead a new sense of intimacy by using his pages to frame or incorporate human X-rays.

Mater’s Illumination Dyptich is connected to many of the great examples of classical Islamic art in the exhibition that are similarly inscribed and thereby transformed into charitable donations. It is an absolutely wonderful work that can hold its own against some of the masterpieces of Islamic art that will surround it.  

In keeping with the exhibition’s theme, we are most grateful for the generous gift of Ahmed Mater’s Illumination Dyptich; it is an important and welcome addition to our growing collection of contemporary Middle Eastern art.’

These acquisitions are testament to the growing interest in and appreciation of Saudi artists by international institutions and collectors. There is a growing recognition that the artists who show in Edge of Arabia are producing original and historically significant work which both challenge and illuminate audiences understanding of contemporary Arab culture and society.

For further information - LACMA

Gifts of the Sultan (LACMA), 2011