Ajlan Gharem 1 Culturunners

Ajlan Gharem

Artist & Co-Founder of Gharem Studio in Riyadh

Ajlan Gharem is a multidisciplinary artist who explores Arab and Islamic culture in a world of increasing globalization and changing power dynamics. In a climate of rapid development across the Gulf and a cautious Saudi response to the growing art community, Ajlan’s work focuses on the balance of power between the individual and the state and on his generation’s ability to create change.

Ajlan received an undergraduate degree in Mathematics at King Khalid University and continues to apply this analytical training to his art. Born in the conservative southern city of Khamis Mushayt in Saudi Arabia, Ajlan is now based in Riyadh where he works as a teacher of Mathematics at Al Sahabah Public School. He is a co-founder of Gharem Studio along with his brother, the artist Abdulnasser Gharem.

Artworks

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Paradise Has Many Gates (day), 2015 Photograph

Ajlan Gharem

Paradise Has Many Gates (night), 2015 Photograph

Ajlan Gharem

A sign reads “RESPECT THE ART. Video surveillance.” Someone had scratched out the word “ART” with a black marker and written “Religious” in its place. One is reminded that even as Vancouver’s international art world allure is growing, Canada, too, can suffer from conservatism and xenophobia.

Ajlan Gharem & Vancouver Biennale

The project’s Vancouver incarnation is intended as a “community hub,” incorporating input from locals, weaving by First Nations artisans (its site is a former Indian reservation), and mandalas by a local Muslim Indo-Canadian artist, Sheniz Janmohamed.

Ajlan Gharem & Vancouver Biennale

The installation was inspired by and indeed suggests the metal cages found in Guantánamo, refugee camps, and Trumpian prisons for migrant children, but it also examines how community is experienced in public spaces.

Ajlan Gharem & Vancouver Biennale

The cage/mosque form also references the prison of identity, and in addition to combatting both Islamophobia and extremism, Gharem hopes his work will continue to be a gathering place for disparate communities.

Ajlan Gharem & Vancouver Biennale

Ajlan Gharem & Vancouver Biennale

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