Greenbox dictionary of Saudi Arabian artists

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Maha Malluh is an artist, born from the traditional region of Najd, who has met the challenges of modernity that have come so overwhelmingly to Saudi Arabia. She has exhibited her art since 1976 and has in later years acquired a BA in English literature and a Californian certificate in design and photography.

Continuous in her artwork, that started with collages and developed into photograms, is her use of symbolic and real imagery to express her opinion about life in Saudi Arabia. Sometimes loudly, as is the case with her photograms showing 'babies' which have titles such as Overpopulation and Bad news. Sometimes less outspoken, when she combines images of traditional make-up tools with modern MacDonalds advertising.

'To control both quality and content,' she writes on her website, she built her own darkroom in Riyadh to develop and print her images. They are black and white, but rampant with colour waiting to be seen or just recognized. Sometimes there are limits to what a photogram will show: the ears of Minnie Mouse do not do well in black and white. So we are left with Mickey only. It is The Mouse from her series Capturing Light (2005). A Saudi mouse with American ears, being fed from two bottles of milk. Captured.

In 2007 Malluh staged an event in Galerie O for which her work was mass produced on bags in a drive not only to capture light but also the eyes and minds of young people and moving them away from Luis Vuitton to ideas of a serious nature. And perhaps the sunset.

Maha Malluh believes that Saudi Arabia in this hectic world needs art more than ever to move and arrest the eye - the core business of real artists. (2009).


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From tp to bottom: The Mouse (2005), Merwed (2008).