Safeya Binzagr is a pioneering artist in Saudi Arabia who successfully documented the country’s customs and heritage in her art.
If you’re wondering what Jeddah looked like thirty years ago you need to take a trip to Binzagr’s museum and relish the artistic details which have captured the historic essence of Jeddah.
But first, here are some things you need to know about the artist and her work:
1. Capturing the world in art.
Most artists produce works which are reflections of the world and people around them. Safeya Binzagr captures Saudi heritage and customs, but at the same time she beautifully illustrates the human life.
2. The first exhibition.
In 1968 Safeya Binzagr’s paintings were displayed for the first time in an art gallery, and a few paintings were up for sale.
3. The first and last sale.
Binzagr’s artwork is a product of her memories, emotions and feelings which she carefully documents with the stroke of every brush. Selling the paintings meant parting with this sentiment, and so after the first exhibition she decided to never sell a painting again.
4. Writing for Al-Bilad newspaper.
Binzagr studied abroad for almost two decades, and once she returned to Saudi Arabia she began writing about art and art history for Al-Bilad newspaper.
5. It all began with simple drawings.
She drew simple drawings which were impressions of the Saudi social history. It was at this time that she decided to pursue her hobby and develop her art skills.
6. Private art lessons.
Safeya Binzagr received private art lessons at home which helped her develop her artistic skills.
7. Her art tools and instruments.
Due to lack of demand, artistic tools were unavailable in the local Saudi market. At this point in time, there were no art galleries either. However this did not discourage Binzagr who obtained art tools from abroad.
8. A friend and an artist.
During her time in Cairo, Safeya Binzagr and Mounirah Mosly became close friends who shared a passion for art. They decided to hold a joint exhibit once they returned to Saudi Arabia.
9. The first plastic arts gallery.
The duo organized an exhibition at Dar At-Tarbiyah al-Hadithah Girls School in 1968 under the patronage of HRH Prince Mish’al bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz who was the Amir of Makkah at that time.
10. The Saudi art movement.
The exhibition attracted the attention of fellow artists, and the press. Several exhibitions followed to which the upcoming Saudi artists contributed their works.
11. A life of documentation.
Safeya Binzagr documents the society, its customs and traditions in her art. She also helps preserve Saudi heritage by researching social customs, collecting traditional and old costumes and photographs which she classifies based on regions.
12. Her first book.
Binzagr published her first book, Saudi Arabia: An Artist’s View of the Past, in 1979. The book is a simple introduction to Saudi Arabian customs and heritage through a selection of art works.
13. The artist’s connection to her art.
There is no doubt that Safeya Binzagr experiences a deep sense of connection and harmony to her art and the materials she uses. For this reason, the artist incorporates a wide range of colors, and mediums for her work.
Visit Darat Safeya Binzagr to view the artist’s paintings, sketches and collections.