Saudi artist Ahmed Mater to have first retrospective with Christie’s

Renowned contemporary Saudi artist Ahmed Mater will have his first mid-career retrospective with Christie’s auction house.

Titled Ahmed Mater: Chronicles, the exhibition is taking place at Christie’s headquarters in London. It will run from July 17 until August 22. The event will showcase Mater’s extensive career to date, from his first artistic experiments and explorations of ideas and mediums to his latest projects.

“Ahmed Mater is one of the most significant cultural voices in the Middle East today,” Ridha Moumni, chairman of Christie’s Middle East and Africa and curator of the exhibition, tells The National.

“He’s widely recognised as one of the most influential Saudi contemporary artists, who has had a profound impact on the art scene in the Middle East, as well as on a global stage.”

Starting from his early works while he was in medical school, to his formative years in the arts district in Saudi Arabia’s Al-Meftaha Arts Village and beyond, the exhibition will highlight Mater’s influence and involvement in inspiring the kingdom’s contemporary art scene throughout his oeuvre.

“It is a great honour to present my artistic journey at Christie’s historic headquarters in London this summer,” Mater says.

“It is especially poignant for me to exhibit in London almost 20 years after the first presentation of my work outside Saudi Arabia at the British Museum in 2005. I am thrilled with the opportunity to reconnect with the city and its dynamic art community through this immersive and comprehensive exhibition of my practice.”

The retrospective will include Mater’s pivotal works such as his early-career abstract paintings, the Illumination series and the celebrated Desert of Pharan project.

Mater will also present his most recent work, including Magnetism Book, for the first time at Christie’s. The work is from his Magetism series, which explores the tension between faith and religion through depictions of the Kaaba in Makkah and the movements around the structure known as tawaf.

Mater has become synonymous with creating powerful visual reflections and interpretations of Saudi Arabia, and the Arab world’s transformation over the years. His documentation and visual analysis of the quickly changing social, cultural and spiritual landscapes of the region are explored through themes such as modernisation, land, faith and identity.

“From the early days of his career, Ahmed Mater held a unique perspective on the evolution of Saudi Arabia which he has translated into a rich and complex visual narrative throughout his career to date,” Moumni adds.

“Ahmed’s artistic inspiration stems from a contemporary environment with his works grounded contextually in both social and historical issues.”

The exhibition has been curated thematically by Moumni, delving into the ideas Mater has explored in his artistic practice across a number of mediums including photography, videos, paintings, sculptures and installations.

“My aim is to deliver the most comprehensive mid-career retrospective of Ahmed Mater’s work giving the public an opportunity to view and appreciate its expansive, multifaceted, and dynamic nature,” Moumni says.

“Mater has been celebrated for numerous projects he has undertaken throughout his career to date yet there has never been an exhibition that holistically captures his innovative and creative spirit or offers a window into the inspiration behind his masterpieces.”

The works on display will be on loan from a number of institutions in the Middle East, important private collections and from Mater’s own studio.

The exhibition presents a rare educational opportunity for the public, whether familiar with his work or not, to see the beginnings and trajectory of Mater’s artistic practice, curated to illustrate his journey as one of the most important contemporary Arab artists today.

“I greatly look forward to welcoming international and regional guests as well as collectors to London this summer to visit the exhibition,” Moumni says.

“For those who don’t know the artist, it offers a unique opportunity to discover one of the most extraordinary artistic voices of the Middle East and his remarkable art.”

Ahmed Mater: Chronicles will take place at Christie’s London, from July 17 to August 22; more information at

Updated: May 16, 2024, 5:01 AM

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