He began drawing as a child during summer holidays, receiving his
first oil paints at the age of ten. Not knowing at the time the proper
use of the materials, he experimented mixing his paints with olive oil
to thin them. When he was 13, one of Ali’s teachers told him that art
was for losers, and that painters were people who worked in fantasy
because they could never accomplish anything in reality. Disheartened,
he quit painting for a year, but to no avail. He returned to art,
resigned to his fate.
Ali’s first formal education in the fine arts was at the painting
department of Damascus University, where he studied from 2006 to 2011.
Afterwards, he travelled and lived in Erbil for six months, before
returning to Tabke.
Ali draws upon his observations of daily life, the casual movements of
the people and animals around him. He focuses on addressing both the
‘ugly’ and the ‘beautiful’ aspects of his subjects. His work is
informed by an early passion for Rembrandt, especially the focus on
the effects of light. Some elements of late 19th/early 20th century
art – Van Gogh’s light, Schiele’s lines, Klimt’s motifs – are further
A dominant theme in Ali’s portraits is the inner world of the human
being: its desires and motives, and the dialogue between physical and
spiritual. He seeks to provoke questions in the viewer about existence
and human nature, exploring through shape, color, and form the
movement and formula of life. The transformation of colors is another
Ali’s art before university was essentially analytical, working to
understand the process of creation. After his education, he studied
death as a concept of absolute serenity or absolute perfection. He
would go to the morgue to study corpses, and copied ancient Egyptian
drawings detailing funerary practices. Later returning to the concept
of life, Ali took a different perspective. He began to view the
portrait studies, which continue to the present day, as an expression
of the desire to live.
Many viewers of Ali’s work are reminded of elder relatives or
historical figures. They sometimes also express a feeling of fear,
sensing in the portraits a reflection of their own shadow
Whether painting, sculpture, or installation, Ali emphasizes the study
of materials as an important creative tool. His technique employs a
mix of different materials, the result of a habit towards research and
experimentation that began in childhood with the olive oil.
Ali has lived and worked in Istanbul since 2015.