Surreal Sketches

by BTM

Wed, 04 September 2019

artist Isa Abdullah bahrain

Behnaz Sanjana came away astounded at artist Isa Abdullah’s incredibly lifelike greyscale depictions.

If it were a monochromatic world, Isa Abdullah’s sketch of a sparrow would flutter away from the page and Bob Marley would push back his dreadlocks and break into One Love, smoke still snaking from his cigarette.  The pencil artist is used to people becoming awestruck with his work.

“My talent is a gift I was born with,” says Isa, who holds a full-time position at Bahrain’s Royal Protocol Office.  “I started sketching as a hobby after I finished school, when I had some free time at home.” And the artist has never looked back, improving and refining his work with each piece through experimentand self-study.

Sketching to him is second nature. “Sometimes I sketch while sitting with friends or when I take breaks from work. All I need is a piece of charcoal and shading pencils,” he says. One of his works, a detailed close up of a man’s eye, has the addition of blue ink from the ubiquitous ball pen, but the result is incredible. 

From his very first picture of a horse, Isa went on to sketch cars, and then human faces and birds. Every picture that he chooses to replicate has a certain element that draws his attention to it and compels him to sketch it. “I am fascinated by how a bird clings to a perch, or, like in my picture of Bob Marley, the way his fingers hold the matches. Besides the fact of course, that he was one of my favourite singers; I’m a big fan!”

While youthful female faces usually attract the attention of artists, Isa likes to draw aged faces. “I like the challenge of drawing an old face. It has so much more detail in the features and the eyes.” His favourite, and arguably his best work thus far, is a close-up of a man’s face, in which he says he managed to show the gleam in the eyes using the play between light and dark. 

The exceptional artist has versatile fingers that also fashions delicate wooden models of various aircraft and houses.  “I recently made a model of an island for a friend using simple things like ice cream sticks for the structures and bristles from cleaning brushes for the roofs. The people, boats and trees are of course made using a specialist machine,” he explains.

Engaging in art is his form of meditation. “When I’m alone in my room, sketching, I am transported to a different world, which is mine alone. I could say I lose my mind in art, but I also find myself in it.” 

Isa has no qualms imparting his skills and knowledge to others.  “Knowledge is to be shared. What I perceive a certain way, someone else may portray in different light, which is important as well.” 

His next goal is to design a structure for a roundabout in Bahrain. Looking at the prototype of his vision, he says: “The concept signifies the mast of a ship, as the sea has always been such an important element in Bahraini culture. One day, my idea will be on a roundabout, Inshallah!”

Isa shares his creations on his Instagram account @isa.abdullah and @isa012art.