By Sekka Editorial
Alia Al Hammadi is part of the growing wave of digital artists in the Arab Gulf States that have found a creative outlet and a following in the thousands in social media channels such as Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. And in a densely populated virtual world where the competition for eyeballs is the order of the day, the Sharjah based artist (who is known as @aliaslens on Instagram) has managed to establish and distinguish herself as an artist through her digital illustrations of elderly Emirati couples engaging in fun activities like riding scooters, ballroom dancing, playing on a swing, or giddily eating ice cream- while still very much in love. The various couples have become Alia’s trademark, and have even appeared on special cookie boxes by UAE bakery Arocolate, and Eid and Ramadan greetings by Sekka.
Such is Alia’s commitment to portraying elderly couples happily in love that has become a part of our virtual lives for approximately two years that we felt compelled to ask the 26-year-old artist if they are based on real individuals, to which she replied “No, it is more of a hopeful wish that, by the time we’re old, life and the world aren’t so messed up that we can’t enjoy an ice cream cone with our life partner. I think, as a society, we’re very embarrassed by emotions being displayed in public. To me, elderly people embody finally letting go of that pressure of having to behave a certain way” In one illustration, an elderly husband looks adoringly at his wife as she puts on her burqa (traditional face covering), “ I am drawn to artwork that is deeply personal, tender and genuine, and those are the kind of emotions I like to portray in my own art as well.” For the young artist, love is “comfort, understanding, support and trust.”
Alia’s journey into the world of art began long before the advent of social media, when she started scribbling on the tables of her family home as a child. With time, she eventually moved from using her house as a canvas to painting and blank ink on paper, the latter of which remains a favored artistic medium for Alia alongside digital art. “Digital art, I think, is the reason many young artists are encouraged to start their journey. It’s forgiving and offers you endless options, whereas traditional art will teach you to take things slower and learn to appreciate the imperfect creations you come up with” the self-taught artist explains. More recently, Alia has married her love for black ink on paper and her digital art skills by taking part in the second edition of the comic book anthology Corniche 2 by Sharjah Art Foundation, which pays homage to the Sharjah Corniche through 23 comics in English and Arabic created by UAE-based artists. “My comic [“Hazy Memory”] is reminiscent of times in my life I’m not fond of, told with a little bit of bitter comedy” she tells us.
Corniche 2 will soon be available for purchase on Jamalon. To find out more about Alia Al Hammadi visit www.instagram.com/aliaslens .
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