Saudi Artist Guides Airport Travelers on a Captivating Journey Through Time in Jeddah

Ibrahim Bugis is a prolific Saudi artist whose most recent exhibition took place in March at the Abstract Art Gallery, in Riyadh.

Many of his paintings include traditional cultural motifs and Arabic calligraphy in abstract forms.

He told Arab News: “I naturally find myself in manual arts more so than in digital ones. My artistic practice began with manual works that touched the thoughts in my mind from which I produced creative images that I then translated, so that the artistic income was believable and original.

“I use a visual and intellectual inventory of what I do in order to use and retrieve the experience I have accumulated over the course of my artistic career and to crystallize it into a creative work of art distinctive in my own style.”

Passengers traveling through Jeddah airport are taken on a cultural journey through his artwork.

Bugis’ 36-meter-long mural covers the wall of a pedestrian walkway inside King Abdulaziz International Airport.

The colorful artwork has been designed to provide trippers with a vibrant visual insight into the historic Red Sea port city.

Bugis explained: “I was chosen out of a bunch of talented artists representing various styles. They wanted to add artistic and aesthetic touches that are appropriate for the airport’s role as a gateway that welcomes pilgrims, tourists, and visitors.

“The mural’s purpose is to give visitors an aesthetic, cultural, progressive image that represents and emphasizes the artistic and cultural value of the Kingdom,” he added.

The collage, Bugis noted, was his own interpretation of Jeddah and its identity, with shades of blue and red symbolizing the Red Sea, and recurring Islamic and arabesque motifs and elements blended in among distinctive buildings, mosques, and palm trees.

He has participated in more than 50 exhibitions inside and outside the Kingdom, including the Association of Space Explorers’ exhibition in Riyadh in 1991, the 1998 Saudi Cultural Week in Spain, and the Saudi Fine Art and Heritage exhibition in the Czech Republic in 1999.

In 1992, he was awarded a Jeddah City Medal, and won the Coca-Cola logo award accompanying the Saudi national team matches in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, hosted by South Korea and Japan.

Born in Makkah in 1953, he enjoyed art as a child.

He said: “In my childhood, as I remember, I used to scribble and draw on any available space such as a white page or a wall.

“I enjoyed drawing, and even at school I saw admiration from my colleagues and teachers, especially the art teacher who directed me and gave me the opportunity to participate in school exhibitions.”

In 1979, Bugis was encouraged to enter a competition run by the Culture and Arts Association, and although he did not study art at university, he continued to develop his talent, following the art scene around the world. During his travels, he visited international art galleries and museums to gain knowledge and inspiration.

Bugis said: “The current period presents a good opportunity for artists to showcase their skills in light of the Kingdom’s support through the Saudi Society for Fine Arts, and Misk cultural and arts foundation.”

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