‘Magnetism’: What Does Christie’s, WHO and Saudi Art Have in Common?

'Magnetism': What Does Christie's, WHO and Saudi Art Have in Common?

Saudi artist Ahmed Mater’s acclaimed work “Magnetism” will be the first item under the hammer in The Future is Unwritten’s Healing Arts Auction series, beginning next month. 

The series is a joint project between Christie’s, the WHO Foundation and UN75 which, according to a press release, “aims to increase awareness around a global path to recovery (from the COVID-19 pandemic) and raise critical funds to mobilize artists and health professionals in support of communities most vulnerable, at-risk and with the weakest health systems to act effectively in response to the pandemic. ” All proceeds will go to the WHO Foundation and The Future is Unwritten’s Artist Response Fund, which supports artist-led projects “that directly facilitate community healing and healthcare messaging in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

Mater’s work is a cuboid magnet that resembles the Kaaba in Makkah – considered the most sacred place on earth by Muslims. Thousands of particles of iron surround the magnet. The press release describes “Magnetism” as “one of the 21st Century’s most iconic cultural images from the Islamic world,” adding that it “fuses art, science and the concept of identity and religion.”

“Mater’s counterpoint of square and circle, whirl and cube, of black and white, light and dark, places the primal elements of form and tone in dynamic equipoise. The overall aim of the artist is simple, but enchantingly alluring, ”the release states.

“I am very connected, spiritually, to Makkah,” Mater told Arab News earlier this year. “I grew up in this community (where we) saw all the people going (on Hajj) and moving around the Kaaba. I remember my parents telling me, ‘When you go there you will feel like you are being pulled by a magnet.’ This is a big memory from my childhood. ” It was this memory that inspired “Magnetism,” which is expected to raise up to $ 155,000 at next month’s auction.

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