Ziad Al Najjar

B. 2001

 

Emirati visual artist Ziad Al Najjar’s exploratory approach to two and three-dimensional art aims to upturn fixed notions surrounding process, materiality, and visual perception.

 

Establishing an interplay between organic and inorganic forms Al Najjar infuses his symbolically dense work with icons and influence from the natural world. The artist considers the connectedness between the natural, constructed and spiritual realms and how they relate to his lived experience in the contemporary moment. The Islamic miniatures made familiar to him during his childhood regularly appear as motifs within his practice. Scenes of battle, the banal and spiritual practices are often poetically depicted in orchards or gardens. Al Najjar summons this world into his art infusing it with his recent experiences of flora, fauna, or soft shapes that resemble cells under a microfine glass. Delicate and sensual organic forms - some representational some abstract - ungulate across the artist’s canvas. Translation and tension - between past and present, structure and wildness - are central to this work.

 

Breaking from established conventions Al Najjar works upon an unstretched canvas, placing his focus on its material properties and so releasing it from its flatness. Through his art, Al Najjar reimagines the canvas as a tapestry. Movements from pointillism to abstraction, op-art and constructivism have impacted Al Najjar’s production; the influence of Joseph Albers and ​​Moholy Nagy is palpable. Al Najjar’s palette is as fundamental to his process as his conceptual thinking. The artist is preoccupied with human emotional connection to colour. He approaches his canvas with soft, diluted acrylic paint - often tones absorbed from the earth and sky - which he patiently layers. For Al Najjar, pattern-making establishes an environment. Dense layers of colour are animated through a meticulous approach to mark making. Al Najjar sweeps the canvas with vivid oil pastel, his forms embody the simultaneous precision and fluidity of patterns formed in nature, they meander and mutate. Manipulating depth and tone Al Najjar investigates optical creation and illusively engages with the illusionary.  
 
EDUCATION

 2023, BFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL (anticipated, spring 2023)

 
EXHIBITIONS

2022, Selected Ambient Works – Vol. 0, Chicago, IL    

2022, Sikka Art Festival, United Arab Emirates, Dubai
2022, Collective Consciousness, United Arab Emirates, Dubai 

2021, Bawa Gallery, Kuwait

2020, Waw.exhibit, Maisan15, United Arab Emirates, Dubai

2020, Magic, Chicago, IL

2019, Art Bash, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

 
AWARDS

2018 - 2022, Creative Honours Scholarship, Undergraduate, School of the Art Institute Chicago, Chicago, IL

2018 - 2023, Scholarship, Undergraduate, UAE Ministry of Higher Education, United Arab Emirates

 
 SELECTED PRESS

2021, Canvas Magazine, The Future Is Bright, Issue 97, Print & Digital, United Arab   Emirates
2021, Exhibition discovers talents of new artists, Gulf Today, Online article, United Arab Emirates

 2020, Nine-01: Young Emirati artists transform mall space into art studio, The National,   Arts & Culture, Newspaper article/available online, United Arab Emirates

 
SPECIAL PROJECTS

2020 – 2021, Nine-01, Artist Studio, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Co-founder)
Co-founder of theartist studio in Dubai. Three Artists worked in the space full time for 8 months, the space facilitated studio visits, gatherings, and artists