By Alanood Al Wahaibi
Omani artist Mohammed Al Attar. Image by Jacqueline V. Belizario for the Khaleeji Art Museum.
A child with a big imagination, Mohammed Al Attar grew up to become one of Oman’s most promising artists who shares his moving work with thousands of art enthusiasts on social media. The 32-year-old Omani works as a lawyer during the day, and dedicates his nights to pursuing his passion for art, balancing both careers. Alongside his social media channels, his art has been displayed in various art institutions of the Arab world, including Khaleeji Art Museum, the Oman Art Association and Stal Gallery.
A multidisciplinary artist, Al Attar believes in the importance of allowing ourselves the freedom to express in any way we see fit, using any tools available. His work encompasses watercolour on canvas, digital paintings, sketches and performances. Based on his personal journey, Al Attar’s pieces frequently explore the interplay of light and darkness, and encourage self-reflection and expression.
We spoke with the artist Al Attar about his creative process, his experience using different art mediums and the inspiration behind the works he chose to show through Museum in the Sky Volume II. Museum in the Sky, which is now available to watch through Emirates’ in-flight entertainment, Ice, is part of the Khaleeji Art Museum’s continuous efforts to showcase the art of the region in innovative ways, and build strong cultural bridges through art. In its latest volume, five Gulf artists –Jalal Luqman, Sumayyah Alsuwaidi, Maitha Hamdan, Ishaq Madan and Mohammed Al Attar– showcase three of their most memorable works to millions of passengers around the world through their own galleries in the sky. This interview was edited for the purposes of length and clarity.
Can you tell us about the themes you most often depict in your work and the mediums you convey them through?
MA: [Looking at my work], you would see a journey of self-discovery, advocating against toxic masculinity through showcasing works about the importance of allowing oneself to feel. I don’t restrict myself to one medium, as I highly believe that freedom is important when it comes to choosing the form of expression, therefore I explore other mediums besides digital illustration and sketching, and that is performance art.
The Ocean Pearls by Mohammed Al Attar is currently on view on Museum in the Sky Volume II. Image courtesy of Mohammed Al Attar.
Can you describe your creative imaginative process for creating a new work of art?
MA: My mind never stops working, so the process is always different. Sometimes the process of creating the artwork begins immediately after I grab a pen, pencil or brush. Other times the idea would circulate in my mind for a while until it gets completely formed in my head and I eventually turn it into an actual artwork. This breaks down the boredom of the similar creation routine and makes the productivity of creation high.
Talk to us more about the influence behind The Ocean Pearls, which is one of the three artworks you show in the Museum in the Sky Volume II?
MA: The year I was working on the artwork  was a year of self-discovery for me, much like a diver going deep down into the ocean to retrieve pearls. The journey was not an easy one, it required the willingness to confront uncomfortable truths, to challenge long-held beliefs and to embrace uncertainty and vulnerability. However, as I delved deeper, I began to realise the beauty of my true self. I discovered aspects of myself that I had previously ignored, and I learned to accept and celebrate my uniqueness.
Do You See What I See? by Mohammed Al Attar is currently on view on Museum in the Sky Volume II. Image courtesy of Mohammed Al Attar.
How did you get interested in performance art, and what is the inspiration behind your performance piece, The Chaos of the Mind, which you also showcase?
MA: Performance was there in me for a long time; I was only trying to figure out a way to bring it out to the world. I would like to express a special thanks to my friends who believed in me: Zakariya Al Aisari (may his soul rest in peace) and Ahmed Al Shaqsi, who were the ones who took the footage and recorded it. That led to a live performance art in Muttrah Fort, as exploring this side of me made me see that I’ll grow within this art field. I have so many performance ideas that I will make sure to bring to life, and as I always say, ‘always challenge yourself to see your capabilities.’
What is the symbolism behind your artwork, Do You See What I See? , which passengers will also be able to see in the new volume? What effect were you trying to create and have on the viewer?
MA: In today’s society, it’s easy to get caught up in debates or conflicts with those who have different perspectives than our own. However, it’s essential to recognise that every individual has their own unique experiences and beliefs that shape their point of view. The work showcases that, by working together, despite the different things we see, we can learn from one another and come to a resolution that combines both perspectives. Through acceptance, we have the opportunity to grow and expand our beliefs and ways of thinking.
What impact do you hope your art, as a whole, will have on others?
MA: My art serves as a sanctuary for all thoughts and emotions, providing a safe space for expression without any limitation. My goal is to spread the following message to the world: one should never suppress their feelings, but rather allow themselves to experience them fully. I firmly believe that every individual, regardless of their shape or form, deserves to be loved, respected and accepted.
You can find out more about Museum in the Sky Volume II and Al Attar here.
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