Born in Abha in 1979, Ahmed Mater is recognized as one of the most influential of Saudi Arabian artists today. He is also, as he puts it, a man of many masks. As well as being a qualified GP he is a landscape photographer and the face of one of the region’s largest mobile phone companies.
Born and raised in Abha, capital of Aseer (a region to the south of Saudi Arabia), Mater remains rooted in his Aseeri local identity. As well as leading a young artistic collective called Ibn Aseer (Son of Aseer), he is an integral part of the recent history of Abha’s Miftaha Arts Village, part of the King Fahad Cultural Centre.
Mater’s work, widely shown in the Middle East and in Europe and in the collection of the British Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is informed by his education and life as a medical doctor, as well as by his traditional religious upbringing and Saudi culture. His work, which encompasses photography, calligraphy, painting, installation and video, explores the narratives and aesthetics of Islamic culture in an era of globalization, consumerism and dramatic flux. A monograph on Ahmed Mater’s life and work was published internationally by Booth-Clibborn Editions in 2010.