Whitehot Magazine

Noor Riyadh Lights Up the Saudi Skies

Angelo Bonello, Run Beyond, 2015. Iron and LED lights. 5300 cm. Courtesy the artist and Light Art Collection. Photo © Riyadh Art.

By PAUL LASTER, October 2022

Presenting a festival of light and art, Noor Riyadh returns to illuminate Saudi Arabia’s capital for its second annual edition with 190 installations by over 130 artists from more than 40 countries, on view across 40 locations in Riyadh from November 3 to 19, 2022.

Exploring the theme “We Dream of New Horizons,” which is centered around a sense of hopefulness for the future, the festival aims to promote a positive outlook for the country’s current transformation and renewal. 

One of the most ambitious international festivals of its kind, Noor Riyadh transforms the city into a dazzling night-time “gallery without walls,” which reaches across the largest city footprint of any light art festival worldwide. 

Co-curated by Hervé Mikaeloff, Dorothy Di Stefano and Jumana Ghouth, the immersive experience highlights work by such internationally renowned artists as Daniel Buren, Douglas Gordon, Alicja Kwade, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Zineb Sedira and teamLab, who are joined by major Saudi talents, including Ahaad Alamoudi, Sarah Brahim, Muhannad Shono and Ayman Zedani.  

Through a sense of wonder, the artists will explore the use of illumination, luminosity and their own encounters with materials as staging relations to otherness and hope in the form of light. 

Koert Vermeulen Star in Motion, 2021 Steel, aluminium, LED lighting, Automatic lighting, control systems 625 cm diameter. Courtesy the artist. Photo © Riyadh Art.

Additional highlights include the festival’s accompanying exhibition, “From Spark to Spirit”, taking place from November 3 to February 4 in Riyadh’s burgeoning JAX District.  

Curated by Neville Wakefield and Gaida AlMogren, the exhibition traces the role light plays in shaping our relationship to a world where light itself has become the signal of change, exploring themes such as the Technologies of Light, Architectonics of Light and Consciousness of Light.

Just as the Light and Space Movement reflected changes in the established order of the West, “From Spark to Spirit” explores a landscape of light inflected by the rapid cultural transformations shaping the Middle East. The show is structured as a cultural dialogue between artists Doug Aitken, Zahrah Al Ghamdi, Refik Anadol, Larry Bell, Jim Campbell, John Edmark, Walaa Fadul, Lina Gazzaz, Phillip K. Smith III, Haroon Mirza and others.

A core element of Noor Riyadh is community engagement and inclusivity, with this year’s edition offering a comprehensive public program of over 500 events ranging from tours to talks, workshops, family activities and music. These will take place both across the city and online, via the Riyadh Art website and mobile app, to maximize participation through creative, personal and immersive experiences.  

Noor Riyadh’s public program aligns with Riyadh Art’s values, centered around enriching the lives of the city’s residents and visitors, by creating a global community which sparks creativity, ignites the art movement, encourages self-expression and creates an inclusive culture. WM 

Robert Wilson DAYDREAM, 2021 Painted steel, thermoformed mirror polystyrene and lights 520x900 cm. Courtesy the artist. Photo © Riyadh Art.



Paul Laster

Paul Laster is a writer, editor, curator, artist and lecturer. He’s a contributing editor at ArtAsiaPacific and Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art and writer for Time Out New York, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Galerie Magazine, Sculpture, Art & Object, Cultured, Architectural Digest, Garage, Surface, Ocula, Observer, ArtPulse, Conceptual Fine Arts and Glasstire. He was the founding editor of Artkrush, started The Daily Beast’s art section, and was art editor of Russell Simmons’ OneWorld Magazine, as well as a curator at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, now MoMA PS1.



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