Maha Malluh—featured Saudi artist
Meet our ‘theme-special’ featured Saudi artist, Maha Malluh, whose unique exploratory art in various mediums inspires conversations and stories.
One of Saudi Arabia’s most unique artists, one that explores, expands and experiments with various mediums, Maha Malluh’s creations leave an impression and tell multiple stories. Born in Jeddah in 1959, the Riyadh-based artist has been exhibiting for over three decades and is greatly influenced by her spiritual connection to the historic region of Najd, with its strong religious and cultural heritage, colorful patterned fabrics, and old Najdi architecture.
From collages to photography to reinterpreting and recycled objects from our homes and lives, Ms. Malluh is known to go digging through flea markets, deserted construction sites and various locations to find elements that resonate and capture her and our imagination. Her latest work of mixed media installations, which use the found objects, can be seen as historic symbols of collective Saudi identity, amongst them are massive chinco dishes, Aluminum pots, cassette tapes of religious lectures, discarded oil barrels and metal doors typical of the region.
“Art is life to me…My inspiration for art comes from my country, a land of contrasting images and ideas. Good art… forces you to pause, to contemplate and think harder about your surroundings.”
The installation featured here of old aluminum pots hanging closely together off the wall— pots that have been used by Arabs throughout history for cooking—is titled ‘Food for Thought - Al-Muallaqat.’ It explicitly makes reference to the Suspended Odes or Hanging Poems, the 6th century pre-Islamic Arabic poetry traditionally hung on the Kaaba at Makkah.
The co-existence of the modern and the traditional is a frequent motif in her photograms, such as featuring camels and satellites together in ‘The Road To Makkha, screened and barcoding’ series.
Her body of work continues to explore the dialogue between the past and the present, breaking barriers and inspiring conversations. Ms. Maha studied Fine Art at SMU Dallas Texas, USA, has a BA degree in English Literature from King Saud University in Riyadh and a certificate in Design and Photography from De Anza College in Cupertino, California. She had exhibited in numerous exhibitions within the Kingdom and internationally, and her work is included in international collections such as Tate Modern, British Museum, Abu Dhabi Louvre, SFMOMA-Francisco Museum of Modern San Francisco, USA and many others.