Abdullah Hammas


Another renowned pioneer is the artist Abdullah Hammas. He is one of the very few artists who pushed the barriers of traditional art a bit further and introduced contemporary art to the Kingdom through his work. Yet still, all of his paintings demonstrate our collective heritage and culture with every brushstroke and splash of colour. He is a master for linking colours and materials to his native soil. Upon an interview with the artist, he talked about how his humble path of more than thirty-eight years started with many rough patches- like many of the greats- but then escalated to a bright vocation. Here is a glimpse of what went on in the interview.

If you could change one thing in your artistic past, what would it be?

As a young artist who expressed himself with modern art in the 70’s, it was very hard to get the support I yearned for, and it was pretty tough. Even so, I would not change anything of that past.

Q: What is the biggest obstacle you had to face from the time you first started till today?

Nothing and I mean nothing, can stand in the way of [motivation and will]! With those two around, no obstacle can get in the way. However, one of the great obstacles that existed and still does is the bureaucracy of the Ministry of Culture and Art Support.

How would you compare yesterday’s art with what we see today?

An immense improvement is evident in today’s art; and I started noticing those changes during my 37 years’ experience of teaching art to middle school students. I also sensed it from the array of new artistic departments opening in colleges and institutions. All these organizations and events, invested in the youth the love for art. In addition, Saudi Arabia’s art growth was very much facilitated by the modern communication methods- from the various media outlets to travelling and learning about different cultures. All of that had a positive impact on Saudi art. For instance, in the past, you’d see plenty of houses furnished with uncoordinated colours, but nowadays, everything has to match and fit together. Our culture itself evolved. What would you advise all the young, fresh, and aspiring artists of today?

I advise the youth to practice hard! The talent doesn’t only come from dabbing some colours here and there. Good art needs years of practice and hard work so that it can become special and unique. Look at doctors for example; they spend years just studying general medicine, and then several years after that, specializing, and then some more to become consultants. It’s the same with art; practice makes perfect! Likewise, artist Abdullah Idrees is yet another pioneer that compiled legendary pieces of art. He believes that: “It is indeed a very primary need for art to be taught in schools.


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