A spiritual and exploratory odyssey produced a series of works to which Once Was A Ruler (2019) belongs. Here the artist has created a composite of his own photographs of ancient sculptures that depict monarchs from the north Arabian kingdom of Lihyan, showcased in the Roads of Arabia exhibition (2010-2018) that highlighted the Arabian Peninsula’s ancient past and early civilization. The artist has layered these photographs with his own body X-rays, superimposing these photographic collages and assembling them into illuminated lightboxes, capturing the human spirit of these fourth and third century BC sculptures. By affirming their past existence as human beings who once ruled the Arabian Peninsula, the artist comments on the often-misperceived God-like worship status of these rulers.
Sultan bin Fahad (b. 1971) considers art as a journey between intangible memories and tangible cultures. Throughout his abstract drawings, paintings, sculptures and installations bin Fahad’s central theme and object of concern remains material culture in his native Saudi Arabia. In his practice bin Fahad reinterprets history, stories and narratives with the use of material culture; he transposes these narratives to contemporary means as a reassessment and personal take on Saudi Arabia. Themes central to his practice revolve around reimagining found objects, Islam and Saudi history and identity.
Bin Fahad’s solo exhibitions include #Frequency at the Alda Fendi Foundation, Rhinoceros Gallery, Rome, Italy (2020) and Qounot,’ Alàan gallery, Riyadh (2016). Group exhibitions include Mara’ina, Ithra Museum, Ithra; Winter at Tantoora, Al-Ula, KSA; 45th Bahrain Annual Fine Arts Exhibition, Manama, Bahrain (2019); Vantage Point, Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE; Contemporary Photography from the Arab World, American University Museum Katzen Art Center, Washington, DC; Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival, UAE (2018); Dreams and Memory, Athr Gallery, Jeddah, KSA (2016). Sultan bin Fahad's work was acquired by the Palestine Museum and the Ithra Museum.
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