By Mudassir Raja
“Art can really lead people to evolve and understand life better. Art is for the people. Art is not for the consumers. Art takes care of human values.”
So says Faisal al-Hajri, a talented Qatari artist. He believes that art is all about giving meaning to feelings and concepts through different techniques such as painting, sculpting, and writing fiction and poetry. He has a lot of respect for artists, who try to highlight newer philosophies, ideas and concepts through different media.
Faisal, a conceptual artist, recently spoke about his art philosophy and techniques with Community.
Coming from a traditional Qatari family, Faisal appreciates the basic values of life he has learnt from his family. “They have taught me how to be strong and a seeker of knowledge. I have been travelling the world looking for knowledge.
“I graduated from Qatar University in Fine Arts and taught art for 10 year but later decided to be a freelance artist, widening my connection with people. I wanted to be open to the world. It proved to be really a revolutionary decision for me.”
Faisal recalls that he was a bright student in science and mathematics at school. “I always had a calling me for art. I preferred art over engineering at the university. Doing art has been a fun for me.’
Faisal has taken part in various group exhibitions in Qatar and around the world. He has been a part of the Unesco Club in Athens. He and planning to have his first solo exhibition in Qatar soon. “My solo exhibition is going to be very unique. People are going to be my medium. As far I know, using people as the canvas is going to be the first concept of its kind. It is very fresh and a revolutionary idea.”
He recently completed his creative project titled ‘Unlimited Limits’ under the Fire Station Artists in Residence programme. He has introduced a novel concept through the project and made an artistic declaration. “I greatly felt the emptiness of the studios that the organisers gave me at Fire Station. I felt it. I loved it and I said I wanted it. I saw the emptiness of the studio as an art work and called it ‘rhythm zero’ — it talks about the art of silence — which means the moment when every other present moment is born.”
Faisal likes himself to be called a conceptual artist. “Conceptual artist is one who examines an idea or concept from time to time. He is a kind of investigator. He investigates different elements of life.
“My medium is going to be people; I have also been using traditional mediums of art. From now onward, I will focus on people as my canvas. I will do art with the people. I will invite different people asking them to learn and know more about themselves. I want to study the identity of different people through their behaviour, fashion, food, interests, and hobbies. I want to study more about the human evolution. Then, I will portray different identities. I will have in-depth artistic investigation about different cultures.” For Faisal, life is art and art is life. He sees life as a creative force. “That is why I invite people to understand the creation of life. The more we know about the creative force within ourselves — reflecting in the present moment — the more we will become free. If we suppress the creative force by identifying it with other things, then we struggle and we feel pressure in life.”
The thinking artist does not appreciate the rising auction culture in the field of art. “Most of the art work you see in a museum and big galleries around the world is a reflection of capitalism. It is like two people fighting about how much [money] they have. The auction culture has actually destroyed the real meaning of life. When you put an art piece for auction and start betting, it is not about the value of the art work. It is about the value given to the people who bet for it.
“The real value of the art is that it helps people to be free, evolve and understand life better. It means nothing for me if a painting is worth $2 million. The art piece adds no value in the life of a common man on the street. It may be of some value for a banker or an investor. We need to change this idea. Art is for the people. Art is not for the consumers.”
Faisal suggests the young artists to use their art as a safe place to investigate life and free themselves. “Art is a beautiful way to examine your ideas, to reflect your emotions, and to speak about how you are.
“I want to invite everyone to a place where they know more about themselves and evolve in a healthy way with the rhythm of the universe.”
Faisal appreciates the art related developments taking place in Qatar. “First of all, I would like to thank the Qatar Museum. They are playing a very good role. They are celebrating the heritage and culture of Qatar. We are very happy to have a beautiful art platform like Fire Station where all the artists are invited to create a culture of art and to teach the society the real value of art. I can vividly see that in the last five years, Fire Station has been successful in creating a positive impact in a way that the people appreciate art and are able to perceive it.
“However, I feel that there is a need for more art schools and art centres that can help people to learn more and more about art. I believe that increasingly people are getting excited about art. They see the artists becoming ideals and they want to follow them. In the near future, I will also restart teaching art to those who want to be creative.”
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