Saudi artist Ghadeer Hafez has traveled the world to showcase her work and has established herself as an artistic ambassador of the Kingdom.She is known for paintings that feature bold compositions and colors with an aesthetic and intellectual appeal. The Jeddah-based artist’s journey has spanned more than 23 years, during which she has been present at the forefront of the Saudi and international art scenes.
Hafez was the first Saudi woman artist to exhibit her work in a range of countries, including the US, Italy, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Turkey, Austria, China and Egypt.
She recently held a personal exhibition in the Egyptian Opera House that was attended by many art pioneers as well as Saudi Ambassador to Egypt Osama Nuqali.
Speaking about the message in her own work, she said: “It is about everything related to humanity and the dealings that take place between us as human beings, male or female.”
For this reason, social and humanitarian issues are at the heart of most of Hafez’s paintings. When she paints, she tries to express something to those who see it.
In her paintings, Hafez also derives inspiration from her surroundings to create unique and vibrant works. She said: “The life situations that we meet are the most beautiful, honest inspiration that conveys reality,” adding that she is also inspired by meeting people.
Hafez has represented Saudi Arabia on global art platforms. She said: “By the grace of God, I was invited by government agencies in Europe and America to represent the Kingdom in many art exhibitions, and the last of these participations was in the US in the largest art event that included 195 countries.
In 2008, as part of her initiatives to promote art in Saudi Arabia, Hafez established her own art center, known as Ebda Al-Ghadeer.Commenting on what she has hoped to achieve through the initiative, she added: “My goal was to produce an educated generation that appreciates art and is aware of its dimensions in a correct, non-random way; to come out to the world with works that elevate human behavior.”
While she is now an accomplished artist, the journey has not been perfectly smooth, she said, adding: “The presence of women in Saudi society and in the artistic community was never easy, and the path of art was never paved.“It was very difficult to convince people of the importance of art. In the past, the culture of art was not important in Saudi society, and the artistic movement did not activate until many years ago. These were the challenges I faced … to convince those around me of the importance of art in society and how art elevates human behavior.”
On her greatest accomplishments, Hafez said: “I established Ebda Al-Ghadeer in Jeddah. I was the first Saudi woman to be internationally accredited in the field of arts training from the Canadian International Center. In addition, I am an international arbitrator for the arts for more than 28 countries.” She hopes to see great progress in the Kingdom’s art scene. “There is a state of momentum in the Saudi artistic movement, but I still find that the art scene is not studied and needs to set laws that select artists and works of art,” she said .
Hafez, a pioneer of the feminist art movement in Saudi Arabia, concluded with sage words of advice to aspiring artists: “Art is not for entertainment; it is for discussing minds and promoting society. Empty works of art do not present content. Always care about what increases the culture of society and improves its behavior. Art is a double-edged sword. Practice art, but before you practice it, you must study it carefully.”