Ali Omar was born in Tabke, in 1986.
He began drawing as a child during the 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 with 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 fine arts was at the painting department of Damascus University, where he studied from 2006 to 2011. Afterward, he traveled 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 influences.
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 important theme.
Ali’s art before the 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 personalities.
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.