Ammar tells us more about his project documenting creatives of Qatar and his wish in starting dialogue about the local art scene. He also gives us an insight into his hopes of Art being seen in a different light as the more people join the new wave and start collaborating.
Lets get right into it…
Tell us a little about your self?
My name is Ammar Alqamash, a Yemeni self-taught visual artist born and based in Qatar.
When did you start Photography and what inspires you to create?
I started photography back in 2009, I was exploring all kinds of photography, but I never found myself in any. It was the same year when I started my journey in art and design. Years after, I found myself more in graphic design which was my main focus for years. 2015 I decided to start experimenting with different art mediums including, painting, videography, photography, sound design and animation. Part of my self-learning journey, I had to apply what I’m learning from books, talks and classes. Last year, I made a challenge to myself to not take any photo with my camera, I had to take all my photos with my iPhone to train my vision for a great composition. Along with that, I started reading about history of art and enhancing my skills so that I can reflect on my ideas without worrying about my skills. That year shaped my artistic vision and I finally had my own interest and style in photography and art.
What are the reoccurring themes in your work and is there a reason for this?
I enjoy making abstract artworks. Yet, my passion is always to capture people in my photos. My style is a mix of portraits, street and fashion photography.
What inspired you to start photographing creatives in Qatar?
I’ve been part of many non-profit organizations in and outside Qatar in the last 10 years. And I decided two years ago to quiet and to focus on my art career. Yet, I cannot stop linking societies and cultures with my work. Creatives in Qatar is a mix of the two worlds. It’s about the creative community in Qatar presented in an artistic project. People here don’t appreciate art and artists like the neighbor countries, it’s very rare to find a kid who sees one of the creatives of Qatar as his/her role model. Another thing, even adults themselves don’t recognize these creative nor appreciating or supporting. My aim with this project is to highlight those creative and to start a dialogue about the art scene in Qatar.
What do you hope to capture when you photograph someone?
Their true self. I usually have a conversation with the person I’m about to photograph for 15 minutes and sometimes up to 3 hours. I do my best to have a kind relationship with the person before, in that process, we’d just have a cup of coffee and talk about their work, goals and new ways of collaboration. The thing is, most people are scared of cameras, including myself unfortunately. Once the ice is broken I ask them to show me their true self, by then I make sure we have a mutual trust. I always go for the resting face pose in my photos because I believe it’s the face people hide the most, some people have a beautiful smile or sad eyes. Yet, I try to hide this in my photos, because sometimes by showing a person’s emotion people will define/judge him/her. I like to keep a bit of mystery to encourage people to truly “meet” the people in my pictures.
Where do you hope to go with this project in the future?
The end results will be showed in an interactive exhibition which will include visuals and audio presented in new technological ways. An in depth interviews with the creative in my project will be published later this year. In this project I want to use my years of experience in photography, writing, web and graphic design to present local artists to everyone.
Tell me about the art scene in Qatar and what’s it like for emerging Artists?
It’s growing rapidly. In the past years we didn’t have many opportunities but now we have Firestation, Msheireb museums, QMA museums, Katara galleries and I heard new shared spaces will be opening soon for the public. The problem is, young people don’t appreciate art. I think that comes with the lack of knowledge on what art really is. This will change very soon for sure, because many young people are joining the wave, and new collaborations between artists are happening. I think this will push the art scene positively forward and will inspire more people to join.
What do you shoot with and what tip would you give to someone shooting portraits?
I shoot with Fujifilm XT-2, Canon 7D and iPhone. Sometimes I’d ask my friends to borrow their cameras/ tools for some projects. There are tips everywhere to make a good portrait. My only tip would be to always look for inspiration to get a better vision.
You recently launched Phone Art Qatar, briefly tell me more about it, what you have been up to and how can people get involved?
PAQ is an art initiative aiming to introduce mobile phones as a contemporary art medium. The initiative celebrates the power of creation and highlights the potential of artists who use mobile phones to produce valuable visual artworks. To achieve this goal, we are organizing weekly photowalks, hosting workshops, working on mini artistic projects and we’re aiming to have an exhibition by the end of this year. We welcome everyone because we’re doing this for the new wave of artists in Qatar. Anyone can join our walks and events, we recommend joining our Meetup group to be notified about future Photowalks or events: Meetup.com/phoneartqatar
Connect us with a few of your favorite Arab Artists at the moment.
This is a tough question, because my main interest is in contemporary Middle Eastern art. Mona Hatoum is my all-time favorite Arab artist. At the moment I’m watching over these artists (Yumna Al-Arashi, Ganzeer, Abdulnasser Gharem, Ahmed Mater, Manal AlDowayan, Rania Matar, Hayv Kahraman, Waseem Ahmed and many more). I feel lucky to be part of this region, there are many emerging artists who are doing great work, which makes it a promising art scene.
Check out more of his work here: @AlQamash