The daily grind of sketching real life

Inspired by current events and his environment, this humble artist has made his name as one of the best cartoonists in the country. Fahad Abdullah al Zadjali has been an artist since he was a young boy and has been working for Oman Arabic for the past 13 years as a cartoonist and artist. Growing up, Fahad had been interested in cartoons and art for as long as he can remember.

His family had great influence on him and helped him embrace his art. His older sister guided him and served as his first art teacher. Before he knew it, his art skills flourished. He decided to pursue it full time studying art at school and continuing it when he proceeded to university.
Even at a young age, he was very observant of his surroundings and back then, he drew inspiration from the cartoon shows he sees on TV.

Cartoon art wasn’t a skill that was taught to him but something that came naturally to him and from his work, in the papers, it became evident that his cartoons are a true piece of art. Cartoons to him brought the change of scenery transporting him away from the not-so-nice reality that was around him. What he creates come from the heart. Through his work, he was able to spread the word of happiness, made known the joy of life and deliver the message of positivity and humanity. He was able to create a different reality one which is a happier visual representation of the world filled with war, terror, and anxiety.
Fahad draws inspiration from his surroundings, from the newspapers and other current events. A lot of his cartoons are caricatures of socio-political problems that are prevalent worldwide. He said, “my art is inspired by what is around me, war, pain, love, and humanity”.
Some of his favourite artists include famous American cartoonists and Salvador Dali. He learned the traditional painting styles when he was still a student and also discovered the different styles employed by renown artists from around the world. But Fahad made it his fight to create a style of art that was unique to him. He believes that teaching one to draw or paint isn’t hard work but this doesn’t make them an artist. An artist, for him, draws inspiration and then creates a product that is completely unique and represents their individual style.
“When people see my work, I want them to enjoy it. But I also want them to see the unique impression of my style and have that inculcated in their minds,” he said.
“No two people can have the same style and even when an artist copies the work of another, there are still subtle differences in their colour mixes, brush strokes and lines,” he added.
In 2016, Fahad won the award for the best international cartoonist at a convention in Kuwait. He plans to go to more such events and eventually someday have an exhibition in a gallery abroad.
He said, “I want to do it for my people, I want to share the joy and talent and make Oman’s name shine in the fine arts sector.” This will help pave the way for future artists and cartoonists as in Oman, this sector is still part of a very niche market.
To the common man, a cartoon is just a simple yet witty representation of things happening around them and the world. Representing the scenarios in the best way can sometimes be the most difficult thing. The process requires the artist to not only possess immense talent but also be in the right mind-set, have the correct inspirations and be in the right environment.
This is what differs an artist from each other. It creates a clear distinction between someone who can draw and someone who truly is an artist.
When in the right place and the right state of mind, Fahad can produce excellent products in a few hours.
He said that if lacking the inspiration and placed in an unproductive environment, it becomes difficult for an artist to put his heart into his work.
Irrespective of the kind of artist — whether a painter, musician or a cartoonist — art expresses a message from the artist to its audience. When one produces a piece of art straight from their heart, people appreciate this and enjoy it. Art goes beyond language and borders and brings together countries and states uniting them. This is, Fahad shared, what made him want to be an artist.
Fahad’s latest trio of paintings is on the late Indian playback singer Mohammed Rafi. Famous for his soothing voice and vocal versatility, his songs ranged from classical music to qawwalis and ghazals.
Rafi had a strong command of language and although most of his music was performed in Hindi, he has performed in various Indian languages, English as well as Arabic.
Fahad came across a YouTube video of Mohammed Rafi performing for His Majesty Sultan Qaboos in Arabic, haeeyuli Sultan Qaboos was composed solely for HM himself.
Fahad quoted, “I had heard a lot about the singer Mohammed Rafi and also heard and read about when he presented a song for His Majesty during his stay in the Sultanate of Oman. When I watched the video and heard the song, it filled me with inspiration.”
As a fan of Rafi and a lover of his music, Fahad created three pieces of art, two watercolours and one digital art to celebrate this legendary artist and the message he spread with his visit. India and Oman share a long history dating back centuries and an artist as versatile as Mohammed Rafi, it showed that the connection between these two countries is strong. Fahad says, “Although I am a proud Omani, I am very fond of the Indian art forms like music, film and fine arts.”
When asked if Fahad would have liked for the opportunity to gift his work to the late maestro, Fahad explained that he would have very much loved for the opportunity to meet him and gift him a painting but that wasn’t the intention behind his art.
Fahad said he created the artwork because he is a fan of him and his music and more so because of the message that he spread through his music about the Sultanate and His Majesty. “His music inspired me, so I painted his portrait,” he said.
“I don’t make artwork because I have to, I do it because it is something I love and to achieve the dream that I had as a young boy and for my love of art and cartoons. I do it because I want to head towards success and do the best I can.”

To see more of Fahad’s work, check out his Instagram: @fahad3lzadjali

TITASH CHAKRABORTY