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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Sabah Al-Dhafiri has managed a surprisingly compelling alchemy in his work of the seemingly distant realms of art and science.
Born in the Eastern Province city of Hafr Al-Batin, Al-Dhafiri’s journey into art began at a young age. Unlike many artists who undergo formal training, his talent blossomed naturally, nurtured by his dedication to continuous practice and experimentation.
What sets Al-Dhafiri apart is his unique approach of applying physics and chemistry to his hyper-realistic creations.
One of Al-Dhafiri’s most intriguing methods is the incorporation of temperature dynamics into his oil paintings. As the temperature shifts, his artwork responds with subtle changes in tone and color, creating a dynamic and ever-evolving visual experience.
• Sabah Al-Dhafiri was born in the Eastern Province city of Hafr Al-Batin.
• As the temperature shifts, his artwork responds with subtle changes in tone and color.
• To view Al-Dhafiri’s artworks, visit his Instagram @ce999.
Reflecting on his experimental artwork, he told Arab News: “The idea existed beforehand, and it seemed nearly impossible.” He said he did extensive research until he found a method that worked for him.
While the process might be difficult to explain, the result is a stunning display of scientific artistry. “As temperatures increase, various camouflages manifest, only to vanish as temperatures decrease.”
Unlocking the secret behind his seemingly magical formula was not a straightforward endeavor.
Al-Dhafiri endured months of setbacks, moments of despair, and renewed hope before finally achieving success on a preliminary level. “There is a simple equation, but finding it was extremely challenging.”
Al-Dhafiri initially applied his method to a portrait of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and subsequently two depictions of the Kingdom’s founder, King Abdulaziz Al-Saud — with remarkable results.
Beyond the complexities of the technique, Al-Dhafiri embeds his personal philosophy in the work, which he says is not solely about aesthetics. “It is a means of conveying subtle messages indirectly. My ultimate goal is to enjoy the act of painting while also provoking thoughtful contemplation among viewers.”
He feels that his process is all about providing a range of perspectives.
My ultimate goal is to enjoy the act of painting while also provoking thoughtful contemplation among viewers.
Sabah Al-Dhafiri, Saudi artist
“The concept of perspective visual arts operates by depicting the light that moves from a scene through an imaginary rectangle to the observer’s eye. This simulates the experience of someone gazing through a window and directly portraying the visible elements onto the surface of the windowpane.”
Al-Dhafiri’s focus on portraiture is purposeful because he has always been fascinated with the human face and emotional expressions.
“Though my art I make sure to transcend the mere visual and make it delve into the emotional and psychological realms … to communicate moral and psychological messages to the local art society.”
In terms of the art world, Al-Dhafiri hopes that exhibitions could become more inclusive rather than being tailored for certain audiences. He feels this is “discouraging for the younger generation of artists who might feel constrained by these predefined roles.”
He is certainly determined to continue expressing himself with his fusion of the staid world of chemistry and highly subjective visual art.
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