It may be an art for people but it is an addiction for him. He likes to portray realism. For him art is a kind of “shock absorber” and stress releaser.
Adnan Siraj is a Doha-based freelance aviation artist of international acclaim. An ex-officer of Pakistan Air Force, the artist has won many accolades in Qatar and other countries for his extraordinarily realist aviation art.
Community recently caught up with Adnan and discussed his artistic abilities and ideas at length in an interview.
Please introduce yourself and share some details about early life, family, education and profession.
I am an internationally-acclaimed professional military/aviation artist. I am an ex-Pakistan Air Force officer. I have served as the official artist of the Pakistan Air Force till my retirement.
I hold an MA in English Literature. It is my passion to paint historical military events/operations and enlighten the general public about these moments.
I grew up in a military environment seeing the looping and diving air force jets, dreaming to become a fighter pilot one day. I am a completely self-taught artist and my work has been recognised internationally by some of the world’s renowned military/aviation artists.
Here in Qatar, I am a member of the Qatar Fine Arts Society Katara and I won the first prize in their annual realistic painting competition in 2018. Besides this, my work has also been on display in all of their annual exhibitions since 2015, the year I moved to Qatar. I was also selected by the Fire Station Art Gallery for their summer residency mentorship programme in 2018.
How and when were you attracted towards arts?
I had always been interested in sketching and painting for as long as I can remember.
I, however, started aviation art in 10th grade. Since then, I have been doing aviation art. Naturally, I was attracted towards the aircrafts because of being in the close proximity to the air force activities.
What kind of arts you are more interested in?
Realism, I am more interested in realistic art. I love realism and it is the best genre to present aviation and military subjects. I also like painting seascapes, horses and falcons.
What art techniques do you employ for your paintings and why?
I like oil colours. I do my oil paintings in just the usual painting process followed in oil painting – layers by layers – it is developed and in the end the fine details are done.
How would you best define aviation art?
Aviation art is a special genre of art. It is related to aerial warfare. The artists try to highlight through their portrayals the special moments in flying and air combats.
The art is very technical. As an artist, you need a lot of technical information to make your paintings perfect and attractive.
If you do not know how an aircraft works, what are the names of its different parts; it is very difficult to portray the object in totality with all relevant details.
You need to have plenty of knowledge about the aviation filed which, as an artist, you can use as your reference when you are painting.
The artists try to bring the air fight or dog fight moments close to reality by painting these moments.
How do you see the future of aviation art?
The future or scope of a specific art genre depends on its audience. As far as the aviation art goes, there is limited audience. People related to the field and the veterans often love the aviation art and aviation photography.
The aviation enthusiasts are more visible in the Western world than other parts of the world. Aviation art has actually been thriving in the US and other Western counties where companies manufacturing combat aircrafts or passenger careers commission aviation artists to highlight their planes.
One of the reasons that I stick to being an aviation artist is that there not many such artists in Asia and especially in South Asia. Initially, I wanted to highlight my country’s aviation industry and air force.
However, when I became a professional artist, I started taking part in different international juried exhibitions – mainly in the US and UK.
Who has inspired you the most as an artist?
I am mainly inspired by some of the American and British aviation artists like Keith Ferris, R G Smith, Bill Phillips, Rick Herter, Robert Taylor and Alex Hamilton to name a few.
How do you define art? How significant is it in your life?
I regard art as the shock absorber of life. It helps you release the tensions of modern life. It provides you an escape without leaving your house. For me, it is my addition.
When you create something to perfection it gives you immense satisfaction and pleasure. It inculcates the feelings of a mother as she gives birth to a child – a creation.
Further, it ushers in a lot of appreciation and recognition for you. This is another satisfying factor related to the art.
How do you see modern trends in arts and what piece of advice will you share with budding artists?
People are exploring new ideas and doing novel ventures nowadays. Some are very appealing, some are not.
My advice to the budding artist would be ‘don’t be afraid of the canvas or your sketchbook’ and practice every day. Never pass any day without making a sketch or doing a painting session.
If somebody wants to become an aviation artist, he or she needs to study a lot. They need to obtain plenty of technical knowledge related to aviation and fighter jets.
How would you define the art scene of Qatar?
After exploring the art avenues and art activities, it feels like heaven as Qatar is doing a lot to promote the art and artists of all levels – be it a beginner or master. Katara, Fire Station and Mathaf are promoting everyone and it is very encouraging to see the opportunities given by these institutions for the talented artists of all backgrounds.
Since I moved to Qatar in 2015, I have got more recognition and appreciation besides getting opportunities and winning painting competitions.
I will continue my aviation artworks. I also want to represent Qatar at international platforms as an artist.
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