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Abdullah Al Saadi

Abdullah Al Saadi

Abdullah Al Saadi

Born in Khor Fakkan, United Arab Emirates; lives there.


Acrylic paint on rocks
Various dimensions

© Abdullah Al Saadi 2021
Commissioned by and Collection of Expo 2020 Dubai
Cover photo: Roman Mensing in cooperation with Thorsten Arendt (detail)


Abdullah Al Saadi's work Terhal is a permanent public intervention in a seating area, and the result of his immersion in the unique natural surroundings of Wadi Tayybah in the Emirate of Fujeirah.

Al Saadi's passionate relationship with the natural environment is both simple and complex, intuitive and analytical. His many travels take him on long journeys during which he records his encounters with and experiences among natural elements. He documents his daily activities, makes sketches in a regularly kept journal and collects different organic and mineral materials, which he later organises into constellations that follow a logic born from his reflections.

For Terhal, the artist made map-like paintings from different perspectival orientations on stones from the Wadi Tayybah region. The stones are organised according to his own symbolic code, in an invitation to discover a kind of poetic archaeological language.

See also the interview

Abdullah Al Saadi: Terhal. 2021
Acrylic paint on rocks
Commissioned by and Collection of Expo 2020 Dubai.
Photos: Roman Mensing and Thorsten Arendt (some are details)

Interview with Abdullah Al Saadi

by Pat Binder & Gerhard Haupt

Why did you choose Wadi Tayyibah as inspiration for your work? Is it close to your home?

Wadi Tayyibah is not that close to my home in Khor Fakkan. It is a very beautiful and inspiring place, and it contains rocks of good size that have flat surfaces. The colors of the rocks are different and diverse. As a child, I was at a boarding school in the region.

How has the environment of Wadi Tayyibah changed since you remember it?

The environment there actually did not change much. It is still very much the same with only some small farms.

At the Sharjah Biennale in 2015 you showed maplike paintings on small stones that you collected during your Al Zannoba Journey. But now in Dubai your work includes huge rocks, is it the first time that you do your stone maps on such large scale?

Yes, it is the first time that I paint on such big rocks. These large rocks were suitable for an artwork that is placed in the public space. The work is an intervention in a seating area on the Expo site. The large size of the rocks correspond to the vast area and its surroundings.

What does "terhal" mean?

In Arabic, terhal means a "journey." In a way, this journey also connects to my childhood memories.

(December 2021, via messaging app)

More in UiU:

Text and information: Expo 2020 Dubai Public Art Programme.

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