JEDDAH — Art lovers, journalists and members of the Saudi and diplomatic community gathered at the headquarters of Abdul Latif Jameel Group in Jeddah recently for the inauguration of an art exhibition titled “Arts of Nature.”
The exhibition showcases beautiful and sophisticated sculptures of insects by Swiss jewelry designer Jorg Rohner and is being held under the patronage of the head of the Committee of Fine Arts, Hisham Ahmad Binjabi, at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Binjabi organized and inaugurated the event in collaboration with Swiss Consul General Hand Stalder.
“This exhibition represents a way to strengthen relations between Switzerland and Saudi Arabia and a means of supporting King Abdullah’s efforts to encourage inter-cultural dialogue. Today, we have an opportunity to gather and take a closer look at the very small creatures that are part of God’s creation and whose beauty is rarely perceived,” said Stalder.
The exhibit displays various large-scale insects made from metal and cement including ants, ichneumon flies, bush crickets and mantis. Other artworks are plated or patinated in silver and gold. These include blue emperors, March crane flies, mosquitos and butterflies.
Rohner started his career as a freelance jewelry designer with his own goldsmith atelier in the area of Knonau’s castle near Zurich. Since 1998, he has manufactured insects and in 2008, he moved to Sins where he works with a small team to create large-size insects in bronze, silver, gold and other precious materials.
“As a goldsmith, I have been working for years on small-sized objects. Reproducing insects on a large scale has given me an opportunity to free myself and express my ability and creativity in big dimensions,” said Rohner who is holding his first ever exhibition abroad in Jeddah.
Quality craftsmanship and his experience as a goldsmith has allowed Rohner to reproduce, with meticulous precision, the intricate details of insects.
“What inspired me about these anthropoids is that they are provided with an incredible mechanism although their beauty, complexity and strength often goes unnoticed. Insects are the oldest creatures on earth with their own social systems and an incredible adaptability to climatic changes,” he added.
With the help of his team, Rohner also manufactures giant insects in steel, cement and polyester for huge parks and villas. These include a 15-meter-wide spider and web, a 5-meter-long grasshopper and a 2.5-meter-long mantis. “Due to their dimensions, it was impossible to showcase these pieces in Jeddah but customers can make orders for insects of any size and material. The price of large scale insects can oscillate between SR15,000 and SR20,000 but can also reach as high as SR120,000 in the case of giant sculptures,” explained Hanspeter Banmgartner, an artist and member of Rohner’s team who was present at the exhibition.
Saudi Arabia’s vast cultural environment and Islamic tradition also functioned as a creative incentive for Rohner and Banmgartner who want to create a giant sculpture of a spider web and a golden spider. The inspiration came to them after they heard the story of how Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companion Abu Bakr were protected by a spider that built a web in the entrance of a cave they had sought shelter in.
“We would need 2 big pillars on a real marble pedestal, a special liquid to make the web’s ropes glow during the night and someone of course interested to sponsor the project,” said Banmgartner.
Residents can visit the exhibition until 10 P.M. on Thursday at Abdul Latif Jameel Group’s headquarters on Prince Majed St.
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