Conceptual photographer and poet Ali Al Sharji has made a name for himself as one of Oman's most promising young artists. At the tender age of 23, the self-taught photographer has already exhibited his work in the UK and Italy. His photography has caught the eye of creatives far and wide; including a prominent singer-songwriter who recently tweeted one of his photographs that thrust him further into the spotlight.
Red Bull sat down with Ali to learn more about his art and inspiration.
As an artist, how would you describe your style?
“Artists always like to explore and discover what they are capable of. We don't limit ourselves to one thing. In short, I'm still discovering my style and I believe that the best is yet to come.”
What is the main inspiration for your work?
“I am inspired from the situations that I'm surrounded by. It doesn't have to be something sad, it could even be a fun road trip.”
Tell us about your most recent accomplishments in terms of exhibitions and awards.
“I've displayed my work in Rome Italy through Una Vetrina, and one of my pieces in Brighton in the UK through the ‘Reconnecting Arts Exhibition’. In February, I was one of the nominees for the Stal Young Emerging Artist Award in Oman.”
Your work sometimes includes themes surrounding Orientalism and Arab and Muslim women. Can you tell us more about exploring such themes?
“Most of my pieces integrates the concept of empowering women, and modernising traditions in a way to sustain cultures for the next generations coming from the same background as me. I use Arab woman as symbols in many of my art pieces to revolutionize the traditional thinking of women. I started writing poetry and short stories from a young age but never had the chance to share them as I was a shy person. I had to explain my thoughts but in a different medium. That is why I was drawn to conceptual photography. As they say, a picture says a thousand words.”
What are your upcoming plans? Do you have any projects or exhibitions in the pipeline?
“I have several projects in the works, but my upcoming project will be a short documentary called ‘Al Fern Al Mamnua’, or ‘The Forbidden Art’, which will concentrate on the underground art scene in Oman and its potential to grow as it has the potential to be on an international level, but is in a society that is not yet familiar with contemporary arts.”
What role do youth play in the art scene in Oman and the GCC?
The youth are playing a big role in the scene. The GCC has produced great names in art such as Abdulnasser Gharem, Hassan Al Meer, Madani Al Bakri, Anwar Sonya, and so many more. This is the time where the older generation of artists are passing the torch to us. It’s our time to shine.”
What advice would you give to young artists?
“Have a positive mind and always strive for more.”