Safia Binzagr: Pioneer of The Artistic Movement in Saudi Arabia
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Safia Binzagr: Pioneer of The Artistic Movement in Saudi Arabia

Safia Said Binzagr,a Saudi painter, is a poineer in leading the artistic movement in Saudi Arabia from the early 1970s to the present day.

King Carlos of Spain and Safia Binzagr in her museum, 2008. (

Safia Said Binzagr is a Saudi painter, who contributed to the evolution of the artistic movement in Saudi Arabia in the early 1970s. She was born in 1940 to a well-to-do family in Jeddah, and in 1947 she travelled to Egypt with her family, where she received part of her education. She also joined the Woodstock School in Sussex, England, where she practiced, developed, and sharpened her talent of drawing and painting. She was also exposed to the works of famous artists in museums and art galleries. 

The artistic identity of Safia Binzagr has been shaped by many different influences. In her early life, she was grown up in the old city of Jeddah with its traditional coral stones houses. She was influenced by the architectural vocabulary of these houses, such as the natural building material with its different textures, wooden doors and mashrabiyahs (wooden lattice work). Binzagr was also impressed by the traditional costumes of men and women, festivals, and religious events of the inhabitants of old Jeddah.

In 1964, Binzagr returned to Saudi Arabia, which was experiencing a period of economic boom. She was not satisfied with the rapid change and modernization, which invaded almost all aspects of life and affected the culture and traditions of her country. As a result, she published many articles about art, traditions, cultural heritage and expressed her views of preserving the identity of Saudi Arabia. She also began to express her ideas by producing paintings that feature the old houses, people in traditional costumes, as well as peoples’ habits and traditional events. Binzagr’s collection includes portraits for prominent figures such as the late King Faisal as well as many of the various craftsmen in their costumes.


In the year 2000, Binzagr opened her own museum 'Darat Safeya Binzagr' in Jeddah, where she exhibited all her art production. She also published her seminal book, ‘Saudi Arabia, an artist's view of the past’ in 1979, where she featured the artistic cultural legacy of Saudi Arabia. Binzagr established her own library in the museum, which contained more than 2000 books written in Arabic, English and French and covers many different topics such as history and cultural art. She also established a school to teach art and paintings to children.

From 1968 to the present, Binzagr exhibited her artistic works in more than 15 exhibitions. Her work won a widespread recognition by national and international awards including, Diploma Di Eccelenza- Grolla D’Ora, Italy, in 1982. It should by now be clear that Binzagr’s effort to establish Saudi artistic cultural identity is overwhelmingly positive and influencing. Indeed, it is possible, from the vantage point of the beginning of the twentieth first century, to argue that Binzagr is one of the greatest artists of modern times. Now, people began to understand the full significance of her contribution to twentieth century art, specifically in the Arab world. Binzagr’s legacy is still there to be cultivated, explored, and even extended by future generations.

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Comments (4)


A great artist in a different culture and being a woman at that.

Great expressions of her local culture,,,, Thank you for this presentation

Interesting read!