Dana Awartani

Dana Awartani (b. 1987) is a Saudi Arabian-Palestinian artist based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She completed a Master’s degree at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts after receiving Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art at Central Saint Martin’s and her foundational degree in Art and Design at Byam Shaw School of Art. She furthered these studies by completing an ‘Ijaza’ certificate – the highest form of recognition and authorization to eventually transmit the skill of Islamic illumination. Her pieces are firmly rooted in these traditional practices and she uses only their methods, such as only using materials and pigments she has prepared herself. Her work is in its materiality and methodology, absolutely traditional, yet enacted in a contemporary moment.

Influenced by these two diverse routes, her works are continual acts of revival, and performances of contemporisation. Intricate manuscript illumination, parquetry, ceramics, and embroidery are finely wrought examples of traditional Islamic art forms. Her deployment of the absolutely pure geometric mode, in faithful acts of repetition and revival thus becomes a radical reinterpretation. Only through her adherence to the traditional can she engage with the purity of meanings embedded in the art form. In demonstrating how meaning is structured, how faulty interpretations have come about, she manages to (re-)imagine new possibilities emanating from the same places. Mapping the interior of these unified, vastly codified sign systems, she reveals, in the contemporary spirit of deconstruction, the radical and active potential of engaged interpretation and re-interpretation.

She has exhibited her work in many international exhibitions including Rhizoma at Edge of Arabia, Venice Biennale [2013], Show of Faith at Katara, Qatar [2013], Moallaqat at 21,39 Jeddah Arts [2014], Art Basel, Hong Kong [2015] , Safar at 2139 Jeddah Arts [2017], Exhibition 1 at the Institute Arab & Islamic Art in New York, USA [2017], and I Went Away And Forgot You…at Franco Noero Gallery in Torino, Italy [2017]. She was part of the group exhibition Letters at ATHR in Jeddah, SA, Shift at The Mosaic Room in London, UK part of Shubbak Festival [2017], Infinite Present: Revelations from Islamic Design in Contemporary Art, Cambridge Arts Gallery [2018], Unsettlement at Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne Australia [2018], Al Burdah, ADA, Abu Dhabi [2019].
She had a solo presentation at Art Basel Hong Kong 2016 and her solo exhibitions include Detroit Affinities at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit [2017] and The Silence Between Us at Maraya Art Centre [2018].
She participated in the Marrakech Biennale, Morocco [2016], the Yinchuan Biennale, China [2016], the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kochi, India [2016], the Jakarta Biennale, Jakarta Indonesia [2017] the Rabat Biennale, Morocco [2019], Videobrasil Biennale, San Paolo, Brazil [2019], and Dariyah Biennale, Riyadh [2019].
Awartani’s work is collected by Sheikh Zayed National Museum Abu Dhabi, The Farjam Collection, The British Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and other private international collections.