One of the 80 artists picked by Hayy Jameel to build a 25-meter art piece in Jeddah was the Saudi artist Mohammed Al-Faraj. For the rest of the year, "The Face of the City," which debuted in mid-January, will be on display in front of the Hayy Jameel building. Hayy Jameel is created and run by Art Jameel as a dedicated arts complex and creative hub for Saudi. The Hayy Jameel Facade Commission, the second iteration of the center's yearly program, offers the selected artist the opportunity to produce work that will be on display for a whole year.
Al-Faraj, a mechanical engineering graduate from the King Fahad University of Petroleum, is well-known in Dubai and throughout the Kingdom for his writing, photography, and cinematography. The young artist has already collaborated with galleries in Makkah and the Eastern Province, earning several honors for his efforts. He won his first prize in 2012 for the Colors of Saudi photography competition, "Development and Advancement." He earned the Golden Palm for his film "LOST" in the student division of the Saudi Film Festival in 2015, and he also took first place in the Crossway Foundation competition "Encountering Another World" in London. Also, in 2015, he was given an honorable mention at the Plural+ youth video festival in New York.
Al-Faraj claimed that in order to emphasize his earlier works of urban-inspired photography and writing, he kept his proposal straightforward. He encouraged the locals to collaborate on the work with him. In addition to 60 community members, including adults and children, Al-Faraj asked two Saudi female artists, Nada Al-Ali and Omaima Al-Mazroui, to contribute on the artwork.
The duration of the drawing and painting process was around two weeks, with eight hours every day. Adults and children worked on the canvas during the first week of the project, and the three Saudi artists polished it during the second. According to Al-Marzoui, the contribution was a "rich experience" in all of its phases since the contributors were able to engage with the artwork on a personal level and use their imagination while painting.
Al-Faraj has been working in the arts since 2015 and has seen how the sector has shifted. He expressed his gratitude for the Kingdom's gracious patronage to artists.
He told Arab News, “The future of art and culture in Saudi Arabia is extraordinary.” Adding, “The Kingdom has always had a strong cultural production, especially in poetry and creative writing.”
In order to improve their artistic ability, he recommended young artists to practice every single day and to "continue to be inspired by ideas, creativity, and the opportunity of expressing your experiences."