Ali R Haji
My art is a reflection of my spiritual journey to discover myself and the truths that lie within. As a student of Sufism, I am drawn to the human conditions of pain, longing, surrender, wonder, gratitude, and the celebration of life. My painting process typically starts with one singular point of inspiration: an idea, a vision, a dream, an observed scene or photo. I let this whirl in my imagination until I am called to the canvas.
Starting with a very rough plan, I find myself surrendering to the artistic process, letting it lead me to playful experimentation with palette selection, perspective, subject placement, and line work until I find myself at one with the painting, living and breathing the emotions, feelings, and mood of what emerges. Painting becomes a meeting with my own inner reality. As a new artist, my style is evolving, often breaking traditional rules of color and composition that I feel makes it identifiably unique. My favourite paint medium is acrylic on canvas, but I also experiment with oil pastels and mixed media techniques using multiple painting surfaces. I feel blessed to have been exhibited in several exhibitions in Bodrum and to have an international following of my work.
I am currently working on two series: 1. An abstract series titled "Chaotic Harmony" that focusses on expressions of our chaotic life and the challenge to find harmony and meaning in it and 2. A figurative series "Leaning Into" that brings onto the canvas moments of deep connection, emotion and support between humans.
Ali was meant to be an artist. As a child, he was passionate about drawing, painting, sculpting, and garden design as ways to express, explore, and satisfy his artistic calling. Born and raised in Pakistan, Ali moved to America at the age of 16 to pursue higher education. There, walking in his family's footsteps, he earned a Bachelor's degree in business from The Wharton School and an MBA from UCLA, followed by a corporate career.
And yet. A day before he started his first job in Los Angeles, Ali had a strange dream. He dreamt that he was in a famous art gallery where his work was being exhibited. He woke up the next morning feeling that he had pursued the wrong career. To dispel the feeling and validate his career choice, he bought a large canvas and some oil paints and brushes and started painting, only to produce an unsatisfying painting which solidified his original career choice. Fast forward 25 years, it was not until he moved to Bodrum, Turkey with his wife, son and dog in search of a life adventure, that his dreams about being an artist reappeared. He found himself waking up from dreams and visions about colors and colorful compositions, often swimming in them during his daydreams. In answer to this calling, fate brought him closer to Sue Dunlop, an acclaimed Scottish Artist and Teacher residing in Bodrum, who was both an inspiration and a guide to Ali as he answered this renewed artistic calling and became a full time artist, creating professional-level acrylic and mixed media paintings. Outside the studio, Ali volunteers at and chairs the board of a local NGO, Bodrum Humanity, and is an avid tennis player and traveler.