Surrealist Photographer Abdulla Elmaz On Escapism, Art And Creativity In Lockdown

3 min read

Ahead of International Artist’s Day on October 25, three regionally-based artists discuss making a meaningful impact in the world through design, photography and portraiture. Here, Australian-born Turkish-Albanian photographer, Abdulla Elmaz, talks to MOJEH

Abdulla Elmaz

Abdulla Elmaz wears: Top, trousers, jacket and shoes, PRADA

Dubai-based surrealist fashion photographer and art director Abdulla Elmaz captures raw emotion in everything he creates. Setting his imagination free, Elmaz sees the world through a different lens, capturing intriguing looks and visions in every theme he explores. Born to Albanian and Turkish parents and raised in a small country town called Shepparton in the north-east of Melbourne, Australia, the 29-year-old photographer moved to Dubai recently.

Discovering a surreal world, he encourages passionate conversation through his impactful images, believing that, “where words fail, art expresses the concept of an image and speaks a thousand words.” Through art the talented photographer believes important causes can be made more accessible, showing the issue in a different light.

Abdulla Elmaz

Launched to benefit Beirut, this burning rose represents hope in a dark and painful time

Elmaz’s work, with an interesting take on light, shadow, and the composition of objects, has quickly garnered popularity in the region and the world over, with him subsequently workingfor brands like Louis Vuitton and Valentino. Putting so much of himself into the images he creates, Elmaz explains, “I am proud of all my work as everything I do is very considered, from research, concept creation, direction, technical details, the other creatives I choose to work with me on set, all the way to the final selected photos.”

On what inspires him, Elmaz says, “my work is very intimate at the core and it adapts to the current world state. I am more aware and conscious of the issues faced by humanity and this has and will undoubtedly continue to inuence my work.” It is this responsibility regarding images, ideas and thoughts that is reflected through his imaginative pieces.

Sharing how his interpretations of art respond to the world around us Elmaz reveals that a piece he is particularly proud of was created as lockdown hit. “I photographed myself on my iPhone, sending my model friend the poses and she chose her favourite and recreated it. I then put her head and hands on my body and made it looklike she was here within a set that consisted of mono bloc chairs, creating the notion of nostalgia in an image.”

Part of the series ‘Go Home’ this was shot on an iPhone when lockdown hit

Looking now to the current issues that society is facing, art is seeing a renaissance, taking people out of this world and putting them into a space where they can feel safe and see a glimpse of hope, a pattern which Elmaz has seen before. “The most horrific periods in humanity’s history were marked by a resurgence of art. People need art to find solace, strength, passion, inspiration, anything to keep their faith in a better tomorrow strong,” he says.

Seeing himself as an artist before a photographer and using art as an escape, recently in a series of images highlighting the emotions surrounding the Covid-19 lockdown, Elmaz believes he has, “the power to speak my truth about issues in the world and show them in a way that people can take and leave as they please, but will nonetheless leave an image imprinted in the viewer’s mind.”

Styling by Natalie Westernoff | Photography by Abdulla Elmaz |Hair and makeup artist: Athina Doutis | Styling assistant: Aagam Kaur

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  • Words by Eliza Scarborough