Keeping an eye on the past, and the second one on the future, that is the ambition of the ‘Saudi Picasso’ to illustrate the modernization of Saudi Arabia and its rich culture.
Faisal Al Khaleeji is a 27 year old artist from Jeddah, a painter inspired by 20th century cubism and surrealism and representing traditional Arab customs from hospitality, to clothing style to local idioms. The artist has made his love for his own culture a constant value since his beginnings at the age of 6.
”My focus shifted to creating paintings that introduce my culture to the world, as well as honoring the Kingdom’s rich history.”
Picasso and Da Vinci in Arabia
Al Khaleeji is widely known for his figurative paintings and prints featuring fragmented portraits in the manner of Pablo Picasso. He recontextualizes the paintings of the “old masters” while adding references to contemporary culture.
“Mostly they are of surreal characters painted in the cubism style, but you will always find something in them or their outfits that represents my culture.”
Al Khaleeji painted The Men of Saudi Arabia or Reema Lisa, respectively inspired by Picasso’s Women of Algiers and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Promote art in Arabia
Over the past year, the Saudi art scene has grown, more and more young contemporary artists from the Kingdom are making a name for themselves. In this sense, the Saudi Ministry of Culture has organized major exhibitions throughout the Kingdom to promote art.
Regarding Al Khariji, his works have been exhibited in London and Boston galleries and the painter expects to reach an increasingly large audience. He has also launched since May 2020 the first digital museum, the Khaleeji Art Museum, dedicated to promoting artists and photographers from the Arabian Gulf.
”I believe that art reflects culture and can build bridges between nations.”