Dreamy beginnings, an immortal artistic legacy
In memoriam of Moosa Omar Al Zadjali (1971–2023)
Moosa Omar, an icon of Omani fine art. Spanning over four decades, he has been exhibited and awarded in Oman and widely across the globe. His artworks reflect elements, stories from daily life and his traditional Omani roots.
In the midst of my aforementioned conversation with Moosa Omar three years ago, a question arose out of memory.
Are our childhood dreams still growing inside us?
Simply as much as spontaneously, the story of Moosa Omar in the following lines grants us an answer! With his passing, who knows where dreams are now? Let the dreams live wherever we go, perhaps mourning the luck of separation or perhaps tracing a point of meeting. Here again, Moosa insists on reminding us to break the mirror of silence and let our inner mirror speak love, poetry, art, and everything beautiful.
''When all the stories are over
A story remains
When all the clouds dry out
A cloud remains
A heart fades in the dark''Lubna Al Balushi
This is a new opportunity to live with Moosa Omar, be part of his dreamy beginnings, colourful towns, artistic adventures, and listen to his songs for the sun again.
Sketching everything in sight
Moosa Omar was born in 1971 in Muttrah, Oman. He has been painting since he was a mere child. His elder brother had a small shop in the ancient town. Moosa would always wait there to try to get a sketch of a man with a vegetable carriage, who passed by daily. The little-budding artist sketched everything that his little brown eyes could catch and grasped anything within the reach of his hands. As you may imagine, his fingers always reached the debts book and he sketched every inch of it from cover to cover! Obviously, the day never ended up as numerous sticky images continued to fill up his mind.
Winning all competitions
Afterwards, he joined elementary school and found the same passion for art. Moosa was always eager to attend the weekly art class. The art teacher showed him the same interest, gifted him colours and sketchbooks. Moosa always won the art competitions and continued equivalent progress in his entire school life! Simultaneously, his father, may he rest in peace, allowed him the freedom to pursue his passion for art. He never complained that his son was too concerned about arts than anything else. Moosa always enjoyed going with his father to the book shop where he had the privilege to buy sketchbooks and more colours.
Walk two to four km per day
Despite the lack of resources at that period of time, everyone encouraged him to develop his talent. Beginning in 1990, he joined the Youth Art Studio. Mossa had to walk two to four kilometers daily from 6 to 9 pm to reach there.The instructor noticed Moosa’s sweaty face and dress on the first day he arrived. But he didn’t say anything and welcomed him to join the art studio and gave him a brush and some colors. Then he told him to grab any canvas he could find on the balcony! Moosa was astonished but it seemed that the instructor was testing Moosa’s patience as much as his passion. However, Moosa stored the items in the club’s kitchen cupboard. But, two weeks after he returned to join the course, everything was gone! He couldn’t find the items he had stored!
‘’You have to buy them all; nobody asked you to leave your items there,” the instructor sternly told him.
Moosa was quiet for a moment, then he said, okay, where could he buy these items?
“Anyway,” the instructor interjected, ‘’this is the last time you are going to lose these items.”
But the instructor was a kind man and gave him a new set! Again, Moosa waited for the weekends to be in the place he loved. At this stage, Moosa learned the basics, pencil and portrayal techniques.
15 solo exhibitions and much more
From this standpoint, Moosa had significant influence in the abstract and contemporary art in Oman, especially with the establishment of the Omani Society for Fine Arts in 1993. In between, he travelled to various countries in order to discover the art and culture in depth. He had learnt to cope with the difficulties and moved on, despite the challenges. Being self-dependent granted him strength and focus. He is grateful to all, especially his parents, wife, children and friends who are his big supporters. He is also thankful to everyone, whether they rise like a rose or a thorn in his path – both are necessary! Moosa has held over 15 solo exhibitions and has been honoured and awarded in Oman and all over the world. Enriching the history of local and international art scenes.
Why hide it under the pillow?
‘’Those towns wouldn’t have arisen out of thin air and got coloured without the pure inspiration that my mother built inside me. My mother, whose soul soared towards the heavens, used to collect newspaper clippings that published my paintings and hide them under my pillow. I still wonder, until this moment, about the secret of her choice of this place. Why the pillow and not any other place?” Moosa still wonders.
Seeking to resist the silence
With a sincere faith in his dream, town and vision, Moosa’s art seeks to resist the silence applied with all its heaviness and its lightness on the soul, since all are reflections of our feelings, events, places, smells that are stored in memory. Every artwork speaks to break our silence and gives us a spark of hope to continue the path of this life. Definitely, poetry amazes and derives the texture of Moosa’s paintings as actually he owes poetry the deepening of his vision of all the elements of the universe and its creatures. Besides, the graffiti and symbols inscribed on the walls as well as traditional engravings on old houses and costumes. All of these elements fill the skies of his paintings, utilising the local materials such as sheets of palm rugs, pieces of colorful cloth rugs and Balochi embroidery.
My father’s hand was always there
''And, I wouldn’t have built my towns without my father’s hand. Each moment his caring hand patted me on the shoulder, at every turn, and at each time I plucked a star from the sky to place in the space of my painting. With their eyes and fingers, I’ve constructed and painted all my dreamy towns”, Moosa Omar concludes.