Saudi art students break nude taboo

Artist Abdulnasser Gharem filmed "life-drawing" class in school that he founded

A film that shows art students in Riyadh drawing a nude female mannequin—a milestone event in Saudi Arabia, where depictions of naked women are forbidden—forms part of a show of works by five Saudi artists that has just opened at London’s Asia House Gallery (Ricochet, until 18 October). Abdulnasser Gharem’s film, titled Aniconism (2015), shows 22 artists in the Gharem Studio, which the Saudi artist founded in 2013. The students reassemble a plastic mannequin that was dispatched from Dubai in pieces earlier this year.

Three works depicting the mannequin, by Turki Alothman, Faisal Alahmad and Redwan Hamzeh, are in the London show. “I believe this is the first time that art students in Saudi Arabia have drawn a female model as such,” Gharem tells us. “The film shows the will of artists in the country to engage with aesthetics at the core of art history.” Galerie Krinzinger (FL, A4) is showing three works by Gharem at Frieze London.