Painting a giant artwork of His Majesty’s face in the peak of Musandam

MUSCAT: A self-taught artist working with the Ministry of Culture & Heritage in Musandam, Abdulaziz Ahmed Ali Al-Shehhi or more commonly known as Aziz Al Shehhi recently went viral as the ‘Mountain Artist’.

His fame recently exploded after his artwork of Sultan Haitham’s face on one of the peaks of Musandam was shared thousands of times on social media. But even during the time of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, Aziz has already been doing such yearly endeavour.

His journey started at the young age of 10 and took a turn when he met the famously known local artist Anwar Sonya — recognised globally for his stupendous contribution to the content, form, identity and character of Omani art.
Anwar Sonya and his work played an intrinsic role in building Aziz’s skills as an artist and into creating his very own art style as his talent gradually progressed.

Soon enough, Aziz had found his direction in life and drawing and painting had gone beyond a passion and become a lifestyle — delving into different mediums and art forms including pencil, watercolour, graffiti and digital art — morphing and adapting to his style to where his passion takes him.

Oman Daily Observer reached out to Aziz Al Shehhi, aka “The Mountain Artist” and here’s what he had to share with us.

Your art piece of His Majesty has received a lot of attention on Social media, what was your idea behind doing this piece? What medium did you use to create the piece and what issues did you face?

AZIZ: Every year, for the past five years, I find myself atop of mountain or hill to make my canvas and do a portrait of His Majesty, usually with a backdrop that displays the beauty of the Sultanate of Oman and the region I come from. The biggest challenge I faced to do this piece was the location and its altitude. At about 1200 meters above ground, not only did I have to get there myself but also bringing along all the tools and paints I would need to do such a major piece. Although the perfect location, this natural canvas was far from perfect to paint on and had its own set of difficulties that I had to workaround.

What is your main source of inspiration?

AZIZ: My surrounding. The mountains, the sea, palm trees and the many offerings our country’s nature has to offer. Irrespective of where you are, there is always inspiration in the nature around us. Another great inspiration, especially behind my interest in Graffiti would be the street artist Banksy.

Who are your favourite artists, and styles that you adore?

AZIZ: I enjoy all forms of fine art but especially enjoy graffiti and watercolour. Artistes whose works I love are local Omani artist Salem Al Salami and Emirati artist Abdel Qader Al Rayyes along with international names like Banksy, Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

Where do you see yourself as an artist in the future?

AZIZ: In Oman, my aim and ambition is to become the first artist in the Sultanate to paint a mural or graffiti on a building and someday be the first person out of the region to get a Guinness World Record by creating the worlds biggest graffiti on a mountain or building

A message for our young  artists?

AZIZ: My message to young artists is to be ambitious, to persevere, strive and achieve their ambitions, but step by step and everything comes with patience. Art needs patience and diligence.

To join this Mountain Artist’s journey, follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @aziz_alshihi77.