In Casino AlRiyadh (2021) from his Written By The City series, AlOthman imitates the language of the city by identifying light panels, signs, and billboards found on modern and old urban buildings. In the 1960s and 1970s, these signs mapped the city by becoming the iconic symbols of important locations in different areas. AlOthman creates new neon signs drawn from the words used in older signs to produce a unique linguistic anatomy for Riyadh and revive the memory of its places. In this piece, AlOthman revisits the iconic ‘Casino AlRiyadh”; a well known social gathering and dinner spot in the city of Riyadh back in the 1960’s. It was located in AlWatan Park and replaced by the Riyadh Water Tower in 1969. Through choice and placement, these new phrases reflect the effect of the original social and spatial place from which they are drawn, recalling their collective culture and memory. Thus, the artist reintroduces the city to the viewer in a neon-based contemporary visual composition; reconstructing the words found in these signs, Riyadh the city becomes the poet.
Abdullah AlOthman (b. 1985) is an artist and a published contemporary poet born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. AlOthman does not believe that the purpose of art is only to illustrate an issue or to apply certain wisdoms. He goes to a marginal area, and treats it as a center to make things, to play and to practice art in the streets, by looking deeply into people’s faces, by daily encounters and during sleep. AlOthman’s artwork starts with a question concerning life, its cycles and its effect on his and others’ existence; “art is life” - art means living better.
Solo shows include The Question/More Questions, Alaan Gallery, Riyadh (2014). Group shows include: Experiment 0.3, Misk institute, Riyadh (2019); Zamakan, King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (2019); Winter at Tantora, Royal Commission for Al-Ula, Al-Ula (2019); The Unspoken Word, Khoj International Artists' Association and Goethe-Institut, New Delhi (2018); Desert / Delta, Art Museum of the University of Memphis, Tennessee (2017); Cities of Conviction, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City, Utah (2017), and more.
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