Munira Musalli: The modern artist’s artist
She is considered one of the most important creative minds in Saudi history
A Saudi art gallery will be renamed in honor of the late modern artist Munira Musalli, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, the minister of culture, has announced.
Musalli, a pioneer of art in Saudi Arabia, passed away on Friday at the age of 64, after a long struggle with kidney disease.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was among those to pay tribute, praising the artist’s work on Twitter for its richness in culture, humanity, and Arabic themes.
Dr. Ahmed Mater, director of the Misk Art Institute, was a close friend of Musalli. “She was one of the bravest artists I ever met. We had a friendship. I met her in Jeddah and she visited us here, in Riyadh. Misk honored her work and achievements.”
Mater was keen to highlight how Musalli never let her gender prevent her taking on challenges. “She was a pioneer. A brave modern artist during that time. Her work documented her difficulties, but her art was exemplary. A modern artist ahead of her time, and a trailblazer for women in art,” he said.
Raneen Bukhari, the manager of Desert Designs, has fond memories of Musalli. “Munira was there when Desert Designs started exhibiting,” Bukhari told Arab News. “She supported us, brought all her friends, and occupied the space as if it was hers. Her valuable insight and advice was integral during our humble beginning, and she was always a great friend.
“Her interest in Saudi and Arabian heritage blended with ours, and we created wonderful work together. She really was a pioneer in everything that she did. She was an inspiration to me.
“Her unashamed way of being herself, and speaking her mind, struck a chord with many women who met her.” Musalli was one of the most important modern artists in Saudi history. She contributed to the development of the artistic movement, especially among women, and held dozens of exhibitions, starting with a show at the School of Modern Education in Jeddah, in 1968.
She also collaborated with artists such as Yousef Ahmed and Ahmad Bahrani in major exhibitions across the region.
She established an art festival in Alkhobar in 2007, and won dozens of awards during her life, from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Dubai and elsewhere.
Before her death, Musalli had been preparing a new exhibition of her work in Madinah. Born in 1954 in Makkah, Musalli studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo.
She received a diploma in design in the US in 1979, and worked for a time at Saudi Aramco as director of publications before turning fulltime to art.
Musalli’s interest in Saudi and Arabian heritage blended with ours, and we created wonderful work together. She really was a pioneer in everything that she did. She was an inspiration to me.Musalli was as a modern artist ahead of her time, and a trailblazer for women in art.Her work documented her difficulties, but her art was exemplary.