Abdulnasser Portarait



Born 1973 in Khamis Mushait where he use to live and work. In 1992 Gharem graduated from the King Abdulaziz Academy before attending The Leader Institute in Riyadh. In 2003 he studied at the influential Al- Meftaha Arts Village in Abha and in 2004 Gharem and the Al- Meftaha artists staged a group exhibition, Shattah, which challenged existing modes of art practice in Saudi Arabia. Since then Gharem has exhibited in Europe, the Gulf and the USA, including at Martin Gropius-Bau, LACMA museum, British Museum, V&A museum and the Venice, Sharjah and Berlin Biennales, whilst concurrently being promoted from 2nd Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel in the Saudi Arabian army. He recently made history when his installation Message/Messenger sold for a world record price at auction in Dubai, establishing Gharem as the highest selling living Gulf artist. Gharem donated the proceeds of this sale to Edge of Arabia's campaign to foster art education in his native country. His first monograph ‘Abdulnasser Gharem: Art of Survival’ was published by Booth-Clibborn Editions in London in October 2011. Abdulnasser Gharem is the co founder of Edge of Arabia it was started in the mountains of South Western Saudi Arabia, in March 2003. What began as an unlikely friendship and artistic collaboration is now an internationally recognised platform for dialogue and exchange between the Middle East and western world. As a non-profit social enterprise, Edge of Arabia is committed to reaching new audiences and improving understanding through free exhibitions, publications and public programming. Artist Abdulnasser Gharem moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2013 in an attempt to broaden his professional resources and established Gharem Studio in the process. Due to the lack of proper studios for artists in the city of Riyadh, Gharem Studio began as a working space for Abdulnasser. The space attracted fellow artists, photographers and creative minds, who proved to be the first wave of a new Saudi art initiative.

About Gharem Studio

Gharem Studio is a non-profit arts organisation dedicated to encouraging individual thought and self-expression with artists across the Muslim world. Founded in 2013, the studio offers residencies within a purpose built studio in Riyadh, as well as art education, career guidance, resources, equipment, promotion and opportunities for exhibitions both in the Middle East and the rest of the world. To date, the studio has staged exhibitions at the US ambassador’s residence in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as well as working closely with the British Council on a series of workshops with Professor David Rayson, Head of Painting at the Royal College of Art, London. Since June 2016, Gharem Studio artists has embarked on a multi-city tour of the United States to generate people-to-people dialogue and better understanding across physical and ideological borders. The tour launched in Houston, Texas with a large-scale exhibition at the Station Museum in Houston, TX before traveling to Colorado, San Francisco, CA, Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, ME, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) LA, CA, Dearborn, Michigan,Arab American National Museum (AANM), Utah Museum of Contemporary Art Salt Lake City, UT, Art Museum of the university of Memphes, Memphes, TN.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2017 | Abdulnasser Gharem: Pause, LACMA, Los Angeles, USA
2014 | The Awakening, Ayyam Gallery, Dubai, UAE
2013 | Edge of Arabia, Ayyam Gallery, London, UK
2013 | Abdulnasser Gharem, Side by Side Gallery, Berlin, Germany
2010 | Restored Behaviour, XVA Gallery, Dubai, UAE (17 Jan- 10 Mar)
2006 | The Path, King Fahd Art Village, Abha, Saudi Arabia
2004 | The White Tongue Who Speaks Slowly, King Fahad Art Village, Abha, Saudi Arabia
2004 | Who Keeps Watching the Sun (Sunflower field), Death Mattered – Attileh, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
2003 | Mute, Attileh, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
2003 | UN Inspector, Attileh, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Selected Group Shows

2016 | Parallel Kingdom, Station Museum, Houston, Texas
2016 | Illumination, New contemporary art at the Louisiana, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark
2015 | Saudi Art Contemporary, Chalet Saqqarah, Gstaad, Switzerland
2013 | Arab Contemporary, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark
2013 | A Generation In Waiting, Side by Side Gallery, Berlin, Germany
2012-2013 | Light from the Middle East: New Photography – Victoria & Albert Museum, London (13 Nov – 7 April 2013)
2012-2013 | La voce delle immagini- Palazzo Grassi – Venice, Italy (30 Aug- 13 Jan 2012)
2012 | #COMETOGETHER, Edge of Arabia London (6-28 Oct 2012)
2012 | Arab Express: The Latest Art From the Arab World – Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan (16 Jun – 28 Oct)
2012 | Porta dell”Oriente – Roma Contemporary, Italy (25-27 May)
2012 | Bending History – Katara Galleries, Doha Qatar (8 Mar – 8 April)
2012 | Hajj, Journey to the Heart of Islam – British Museum, London (26 Jan-15 Apr)
2012 | Edge of Arabia – Al Furusia Marina, Jeddah (20 Jan-26 Feb)
2012 | Contemporary Istanbul – Turkey ( 22-25 Nov)
2011 | Political Patterns – ifa-Galerie, Berlin (8 Jul-3 Oct)
2011 | The Future of a Promise: Contemporary Art from the Arab World – Magazzini del Sale, 54th Venice Biennale (1 Jun-27 Nov)
2011 | The Bravery of Being Out of Range – Athr Gallery, Jeddah (24 May-18 Jun)
2011 | The New Middle East – Willem Baars Projects, Amsterdam (31 May-30 July)
2011 | Edge of Arabia Dubai: TERMINAL – Building 9, Gate Village, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai (14 Mar-15 Apr)
2011 | Uppers & Downers – Traffic, Dubai (9 Feb-5 Mar)
2011 | Nujoom: Constellations of Arab Art from The Farjam Collection – The Farjam Collection @ DIFC, Dubai (1 Nov ((2010)) – Mar 2011)
2011 | I Don’t Need Your Money Honey All I Need is Love – Traffic, Dubai (5 Jan –27 Jan)
2010 | Edge of Arabia Istanbul: TRANSiTION – Sanat Limani, Antrepo 5 (10 Nov-10 Dec)
2010 | Opening the Doors: Collecting Middle Eastern Art, Abu Dhabi Art (3 Nov-7 Nov)
2010 | CAVE: Contemporary Arab Video Encounter – Maraya Arts Centre, Sharjah (2 Nov-11 Dec)
2010 | Emerging Asian Artists, Gwangju Biennale (1 Sep-5 Sep)
2010 | Edge of Arabia Berlin: Grey Borders/Grey Frontiers – Soho House, Berlin (9 Jun-18 Jul)
2010 | Fuck Ups, Fables and Fiascos – Galerie Caprice Horn, Berlin (8 Jun-17 Sep)
2010 | Edge of Arabia World Tour Launch – Global Competitiveness Forum, Riyadh (23 Jan-26 Jan)
2010 | Taswir: Pictorial Mappings of Islam and Modernity – Martin Gropius-Bau, Berlin (5 Nov ((2009)) -18 Jan)
2009 | The 28th Annual Exhibition – Gulf Fine Arts Society, Sharjah (March)
2009 | Edge of Arabia Venice – Palazzo Polignac, 53rd Venice Biennale (5 Jun-2 Aug)
2008 | Edge of Arabia London: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia – SOAS Brunei Gallery, University of London (16 Oct-13 Dec)
2007 | Still Life: Art, Ecology and the Politics of Change – Sharjah Biennial 8 (4 Apr-4 Jun)
2006 | Son of Aseer – Al-Meftaha Arts Village, Abha (10 Oct-30 Oct)
2004 | Shattah – Atelier Gallery, Jeddah (27 Apr -14 May)

Public Collections

The British Museum | London, UK
V&A Museum | London, UK
Los Angeles County Museum of Art | California, USA
Palazzo Grassi | Venice, Italy
Greenbox Museum | Amsterdam, Holland
The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture & Information | Saudi Arabia BASMOCA: Basma Al Sulaiman Museum of Contemporary Art | Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
The Barjeel Art Foundation | Sharjah, UAE
Nadour Collection | Germany
The Jameel Foundation
The Farook Collection
The Farjam Collection
Kamel Lazaar Foundation


Hemming, Henry. Abdulnasser Gharem: Art of Survival (London: Booth-Clibborn, 2011) ISBN 1861543247
Jameel, Porter, King, Stapleton, Al-Turki. Edge of Arabia: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia (London: Booth Clibborn, 2012) ISBN 1861543239
Porter, Venetia. Hajj, journey to the heart of Islam (London: Harvard University Press, 2012) ISBN 0674062183
Lazaar, Lina and Downey, Anthony. The Future of a Promise (London: Ibraaz, 2011) ISBN 978-1-86154-323-3

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