Faisal Alkheriji fuses cubist and surrealist themes to showcase his Saudi culture. It’s an abstract approach that means you have to truly engage with the work to achieve maximum joy, but Alkerhiji prefers it that way. He wants you to embrace your artistic side, too, and to revel the newfound opportunities for creative joy in the Middle East and beyond.
Encouraging people to push boundaries and embrace their artistic abilities, he embraces the newfound platform,
Inspired by rockstars of the art world, he encourages rising artists to explore and push boundaries. It’s advice he lives by himself as he prepares to take on the fashion industry in a collaboration that will further highlight his heritage.
Hey Faisal, where do we find you?
In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I was born and lived all my life here – apart from a few years in Boston Massachusetts working on my Bachelor’s degree.
What’s your earliest memory of art?
I think when I was six, at art school. We would draw basic things like the sun, sky, or flowers. After that it would be seeing Michael Goddard [ known as the ‘rockstar of the art world’] on TV. His surreal art was the spark for my career.
How have Saudi’s cultural reforms affected your work?
A big part of it all was creating a Ministry for Culture. That focus is to educate people on our rich heritage, and that is the biggest inspiration to my work. They focus on fashion, dance, cultural customs and anything related to the history of how the region was shaped into what it is today.
Why did you choose the surrealist genre?
Because it’s different. It will take you minutes, hours and sometimes days (or maybe never) to figure out what’s going on in the painting, and as you stare at it more and more you will always notice the very small details that make it beautiful. Normal paintings depicting reality are boring in my opinion, because they are easily swapped with a photo or a design. But abstract or surreal work, that can never be replaced.
Artists like Dali seemed to inhabit surrealism in work and life, is that the same for you?
I wouldn’t say so. I live a life which is a bit different from my art work, so it’s good to have balance in life, where all the surrealism and creativity are poured out on my canvases.
The MENA art scene has a real buzz right now. What’s happening?
I think there is focus and education on the art scene now. We’re having more galleries and events that are giving art the exposure it deserves. Many young artists now have the platform to showcase their art – this wasn’t easy before. It’s inspiring more people to start exploring their artistic side.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on producing as much artistic and educational work as possible to represent my culture differently. I’m experimenting with different mediums, and also designing some cultural inspired outfits. The plan is to launch these soon in partnership with a local fashion designer.
What advice would you give to new artists in the region?
Start exploring your artistic side without caring about the opinion of others, because art is for yourself. There is no right or wrong way to do it. All you need to do is enjoy the process.