Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saudi's enjoy French art in Riyadh

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Saudis and foreigners crowded into a gallery at the French Embassy to view paintings and sculptures by seven Saudi women artists, the latest opening in a growing art scene in the conservative kingdom. More on this in the Washington Post.

One artist took advantage of the venue to hang an abstract painting of a woman, with one breast depicted -- a hint of nudity still taboo outside the diplomatic confines of the embassy, where Saudi Arabia's religious police cannot enter.

This week's showing in a small hall was packed with expatriates -- and, more significant, Saudis, whose presence was a reflection of the surge of interest in the arts in the kingdom in the past few years. Local art shows have been on the rise, more Saudi artists are participating in overseas exhibits, and more universities and schools are offering arts degrees. And the first nongovernmental arts society was established a year ago, with four women on its 10-member board.

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