The Creative Giants Issue

When Art Meets Culture

Mahmood Al Zadjali, Abdulaziz Alhosni and Israa Al Balushi talk conceptual photography in Oman.

By Samia Qaiyum

At What Cost? by Mahmood Al Zadjali, a conceptual photographer from Oman. Image courtesy of Mahmood Al Zadjali.

Forget everything you think you know about Oman’s art scene – the past decade has ushered in a new wave of young photographers who are looking inward and doing things differently than their more traditional predecessors. Abdulaziz Alhosni divided opinions earlier this year when he posted a moody portrait of himself clad in a dishdasha (traditional white dress worn by men in the Gulf region) and submerged in water. Israa Al Balushi recently tapped into the realm of augmented reality to explore the fragility of our reality in a pandemic-stricken world. Mahmood Al Zadjali put forth his unfiltered views on societal expectations as part of a group exhibition in 2020.

The work of each creative is rooted in conceptual photography and, collectively, they’re putting Oman on the regional art map – one arresting image at a time. Look closely, and you’ll see the visual imagery frequently features themes that stem from the same concepts: identity, culture and customs. But is this about young Omanis returning to their roots or facing the effects of globalisation head-on?

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