Sculpting Emotions

, Q&A

It is the bitter-sweetness of nostalgia that drives Jamal Al-Yousif’s sculptures. Working with metal, glass and granite, Jamal hopes to preserve his memories and the feelings that they evoke in him, something that he feels becomes more elusive with time. 

What attracted you to sculptures?

I am fond of sculptures. I have experimented with many materials, such as glass, bronze, clay, granite and marble. Each has its own set of challenges, which I find fascinating.

Which artists have inspired you?

Henry Moore, Lynn Chadwick, Isamu Noguchi and Barbara Hepworth.

Name a few of your favourite sculptures?

The Couple, Sleeping Cat, The Toy, Village Lady, Family, Memory’s Shadow, Islands of Memory, The rooster, She/Him and Faces.

What mediums do you work in and why?

I work with Metal, Glass and Granite. I love both the processes of addition (Building) in materials such as metal and also of subtraction (carving) using materials such as glass or granite. With metal, I usually use recycled pieces to build an artwork. In glass and granite, I would carve away from the volume so as to free a form or idea contained inside.

To what or whom do you accredit your sense of style?

I was exposed to art from a very young age, spending my early years in the studio of my late father, Artist Nasser Al-Yousif, while he worked. I came to appreciate the process in which he manifested his art. He used to tell me that a work of art is the result of hard labour; first would come a realisation, then ideas, followed by direction and delivery. Thus, my father shaped the way I thought and approached my subjects.

Why are you so passionate about sculptures?

Unlike a painting that essentially is a two-dimensional medium, a sculpture lives in the three dimensional world. The viewer can explore this three dimensionality and find his/her favourite angle. This way new interpretations about the work can be deduced. Also, I like the way in which stubborn materials give way to determination and skill.

Describe yourself in three sentences.

I am a workaholic. I’m always thinking about concepts, how to re-approach them, looking for patterns, connections, or alternative outcomes. I tend to stay humble about many things.

List three things nobody knows about you.

I have two companion parrots (friends) in my studio. “Coco”, a yellow headed amazon and “Ollie”, a pink Galah cockatoo.

What other forms of creativity do you like, other than sculpture?

I am a designer in the fields of industrial design, environmental design and branding. I am also passionate about printmaking.

Any advice for artists trying to get established?

Stay true to your beliefs and never stop learning new techniques or venture into new mediums. And don’t be afraid of failure and to challenge oneself.

Words: Abhishek Chakraborty

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