When Art Finally Emerges – Meet Hadi Baghlaf.
An architect by education, Hadi Baghlaf always wished he were a painter. As is so often happens, life led him on a different path, but his true calling waited.
After years of internal struggle, he recently suffered a loss of his father, an important figure in his life. The traumatic experience culminated with a loss of his job, which seems to have opened the hidden doors within the artist and the creativity started pouring out like waterfall. Hadi Baghlaf started sculpting for the first time in his life, engaging wholeheartedly, passionately, madly in the consuming process of invention.
Hadi Baghlaf was born in Mecca in 1965. After spending the first 18 years of his life in the sacred city, he moved to Jeddah to study architecture. Even then, he sensed a strong desire to become a painter, while sculptors he admired as the most superior. But, he was convinced otherwise by his father and brothers.
Even though he completed the studies with success, Hadi has always imagined himself as a poet, taking after his maternal grandmother, a renowned poetess. As such a romantic notion did not stand in reality, the young artist developed a practical profession, while never ceasing to dream different dreams. Luckily, architecture is an artistic occupation that allowed Hadi to approach building design from another angle, imagining great architectural constructions as sculptures. In addition, the ardent nature he inherited from his mother left him struggling with depression, a condition that made his course exceedingly difficult. Not even a brief excursion into the arts he had in 1997 could motivate this creative to change his career. Still, art is eternal and has finally met with Hadi twenty years later.
After restraining from the free artistic expression for far too long, the soulful architect was pushed into the state of perpetual creation by a grievous event. Never having worked with clay before, he embarked on a vestal sculpting journey using cloth, cement, wood, plaster, air hardening terracotta and white clay. The shapes were starting to emerge from the experiment, showing first signs of the still-forming visual language. Rugged, coarse chunks of clay are juxtaposed in an abstract, but coherent manner, composed of protruding formations, or slumped, stiffened drapes. The texture of the sculptures is rich, either natural to the material or deliberately stamped onto the surface, evoking the Arabian desert rock formations or traditional Islamic ornamentation. There is something profoundly ancestral within these modernistic reflections, something not yet shown, giving us a glimpse of the old world, a vision of a distant, romantic life of a nomad the artist perhaps elicits.
Hadi approaches sculpture instinctively, while his work is now entirely process-based. His inspirations are rooted in stories of experiences, alluding to the long forgotten moments that appear as brief flashbacks in the artist’s memory. These instantaneous recollections prompt him to create, piece by piece, while his inventive drive lasts as long as the glance into a memory. The creative act of Hadi Baghlaf is at times energetic, at other times tame, at moments meticulous, but always ignited by strong emotions. In it, he uses a variety of tools, from his fingers to domestic objects, wire, anything that might appear logical and produce the desired effect. Once the feeling is spent, the making of a sculpture ceases, and waiting for another outburst begins. Entirely visceral and contemplative, the work of Hadi Baghlaf is still at its young stage, and it’s difficult to speak about a concrete thematic series yet.
Approaching sculpture with a heart of a practicing poet, Hadi Baghlaf creates his works in one breath. Presently, we stand witnesses to a majestic outburst of suppressed artistry, while Hadi Baghlaf continues to develop his art with zeal and dedication. In time, we will also learn more about his thoughts, whereas now we can revere his talent and the strength of his enduring imaginative spirit.
Ana Bambic Kostov
Ana Bambic Kostov is an art historian and writer. She has been writing reviews and catalog introductions for numerous artists and magazines including the ArtAscent Magazine and Widewalls, where she acted as the Editor in Chief. Her interests revolve around contemporary art with focus on emerging artists.
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