We’re about to play mind-tricks on you, readers. When you look at the photos, would you think that they were a result of excellent photography? There’s something fishy about this fish photo—something that’s more than meets the eye—it’s actually a painting. No, we’re not kidding, and yes, we were surprised too.
Enter Haider Al Zaeem, a talented artist with over 20 years’ experience to perfect his craft in this field, and the man behind these gorgeously realistic images. Al Zaeem is a graduate of the College of Law at the University of Baghdad, and went on to study Fine Arts at the University of the Arts in London. “Studying law never kept me away from my beloved hobby—drawing is a part of my life”. By making the post-graduate transition of adding an art degree to his education led him to the position as a directing Film maker of Animation in the Cartoon Network Arabic studio. We press for details, but he concludes the subject good-naturedly: “I’m bound to a contract and my discretion is appreciated! I can’t tell you which shows I worked on,” he chuckles.
The question lingers, however: what sparked the interest that would inevitably lead to such beautiful artworks? It is evident when looking at one of Haider’s works that the intention behind each piece is alive with depth – which probably explains why his paintings look so lifelike! His works are clearly original, but he vehemently expresses how his inspiration is not derived from a passion for drawing as a child, but one that appeared later on in his life. “I wasn’t interested in painting at a young age, but I was passionate about art and have always felt myself talented and skilled with prerequisites of being a good painter.” By building foundations and crediting inspiration from past professors: “over the years, I found that with a lot of commitment and the mentors I have met so along the way, that I wouldn’t be the award winning artist I am today without that guidance.”
Another major inspiration for the talented painter is the work of Henri Matisse, whom he describes to be the “most important artist of the 20th century.” After periods of devoted reading on the artist’s ethos and style, he has incorporated Matisse’s twist on modern realism, beautifully fitting in to Haider’s still life artworks that are inspired by everyday objects he chooses based on simple appearances and deep complexities; “I like the challenge of trying to draw the definition of an object and accurately translating lines, shapes, light, lint and proper value level onto a great art on canvas.” With each work he paints, all challenges are clearly conquered—the visuals of each work are impressively lifelike, and though they’re on canvas, surpass the principles of “still-life” and give an animated feel.
“My art is my voice, a powerful interpretation of my deepest thoughts, hidden emotions, and strongest desires. The artworks I create are coined from personal experiences, fear and interests. These ideas and experiences are better perceived through drawing rather than spoken.”
Although the artist has displayed work throughout Europe and the Middle East, Haider has a variable collection of paintings and artworks produced as of late, and is looking forward to continue exhibiting them to the public. His works have been showcased with his vehement participation in international exhibitions, boasting a resume of gallery work the United Kingdom, USA, Italy, France, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Tunisia and many other cities.
Haider also proudly placed first in international competitions taking place in many different cities, the latest being in the US by “Prismacolor” for the pencil drawing and artwork. The first place award he won attracted news coverage from many countries around the world, notably the Middle East, and was featured in articles and segments from Al Arabiya and the Kuwaiti publication Al Qabas.
Interested in Haider’s work? Follow him on Instagram @haider—alzaeem for more information.