His preoccupation with representation of the female form on his canvas has evidently been very prominent, much since 1974 when he first started exhibiting his work.
Fahad Hajailan, now a retired art teacher and full-time painter, was brought up in Egypt during his formative years where much of his passion for the arts grew. The cause for its motivation is a story fit for a scene in a parallel cinematic production. Or so I think…
Owing much to a romantic situation of his art teacher who would constantly draw sketches of his female pursuit (the sister of a friend) in the classroom where he taught, cafes and other places of social gatherings, Hajailan found the entire situation so amusing and bewildering that it evoked a much similar desire to emulate his teacher's scandalous affairs of the heart. He then quite urgently embarked upon the search for a romantic muse, becoming his mentor's most observantly obedient pupil.
However, as fate would have it, life wasn't always a vase of red roses. After a long stint in Egypt, his family returned to Saudi Arabia upon his father's death. Unable to financially support himself to pursue studies in fine arts, he begrudgingly was forced to join an institute to train as an art teacher instead. It was a period in his life, which he says was filled with “much sadness and discontent.”
A catalog of works by Da Vinci and Michaelangelo, which was presented to him by his brother, quite changed the perspective on his dire state-of-affairs. "They were never taught by others. They taught themselves” — words told to him by his brother that he still fondly remembers.
I turn my interest toward his latest painting from one of his collections titled “Asfour Al Bard,” which was exhibited at Jeddah Atelier last week.
I am quite surprised and confused by the mere simplicity and grossness of the work, which is in stark contrast with the central derivation of arrival and mysticism portrayed amidst the grotesqueness of black and grey and carelessly covered hints of red and white.
“It is the play between opposites like good and bad, pure and evil, love and hatred,” he says without revealing further.
With the presence of a bull occupying a fairly central position in the painting, he refuses to give a verbal explanation of the meaning of such a symbol.
“I simply don't know what it's doing there. An artist would have started with an idea in his mind but when he/she completes it, the idea would have taken a turn beyond the control of the artist,” he explains.
Primarily, the work could possibly be explained building on the preliminary provided by the artist, as the interplay between polarities. The gray representative of a large landing ground found in the journey of exploration between the two ends of opposites refers to the human struggle in contending themselves to one end of the spectrum. Largely, the path of such an endeavor is seen made at the threshold of pitch-darkness into a light that seems far-fetched, perhaps indicating a paradise lost and found. Yet, it's presence is confirmed by the struggle itself towards a state of purity. However, what remains interesting is the female symbolism that is very strongly expressed in the form of veiled, languid figures.
Hajailan says that his best work quite hasn't arrived yet. “Always set goals that make you strive harder. When you think you are right on top, the need for motivation is lost.”
I turn my attention to his second collection of portraits titled, “Madd,” replete with female expressionism. They are in essence, images of women who may have left a lasting impression on him and found a re-emergence during his creative sessions.
The strength of female conceptualism in his art, he explains to me, are largely rudiments of childhood memories retained somewhere in his mind.
“It could have been the way the milk-maid's eyes would have looked at a certain time, or an aunt's facial expression or just another woman whose feature I clearly remember. By the way, that's a very interesting mole on the face there…”
What inconsequential trivialities find themselves sources of artistic inspirations…