Zaina has trained across Europe and developed a unique style that is characterised with bright colours and highly textured with 3D elements. Her signature motifs which thread across all her work can often be seen in the shape of a butterfly or an eye.
Behind Closed Doors explores the idea of the door being a symbol of many different aspects in a person’s life, not only what lies beyond them and the opportunities that they represent but the negative connotations of a closed door too. Often the most intimate part of someone’s soul is hidden behind closed doors. Pieces in the collection include Sanctuary, Galvanized & Defence.
“Locking the door was a way for people not to bother me while I dream and while I live … for me to enjoy the best things in life, I lock the door and create both colour and dreams within my life,” comments AlHizami on explaining the choice of the theme for her collection.
Ejecting herself from the high-flying world of an advertising executive in New York in 2015, Zaina realised the passion and impulsion she felt when doodling on note pads. Realising this was the direction she needed to take her life in she immersed herself into a creative life in Tuscany, Italy, for several years.
A chance meeting with a sculptor led Zaina to a community of artisans that would change the course of her life forever as she began training under their tutelage in the ancient methods of clay, gilding, painting and mosaics. Finding fascination and beauty in the alchemy of creating most of her base materials from scratch, Zaina uses her own secret blends and natural products to prep and paint with. Artistic endeavour has propelled her to explore this painstaking process to be able to manifest the multi-faceted pieces she makes today, taking elements from each place she settles in that find themselves in the work.
From Italy, Zaina had a sense to move to Lisbon, Portugal, renowned for its thriving artisanal culture and scene. When painting in Lisbon, Zaina started to notice things flickering, like birds and butterflies, in her sketches. Fascinated by this small signal, Zaina spent the next five months studying their anatomy, movement and symbolism. The butterfly is now one of Zaina’s most powerful motifs.
Zaina describes the experience of being in Portugal as feeling very familiar. Originally from Saudi Arabia, Zaina felt connected to the old Arab roots of the country. The theme of reconciling Arab tradition with Western liberalism is one that is continuously explored in her work alongside femininity, expression and the complexity of the human experience.
The first collection, Delicate, was conceived during Zaina’s time in Portugal in 2017. Each of these pieces including Beast, Let’s Hide Baby and Land of Women encompass Zaina’s feeling of freedom and the dream-like state that she found in satisfying her creative life force that continues to galvanise her each day.
Zaina’s second collection Escapism followed in 2018, and included works such as Escape, Explore and Queen. Both collections sold out within days to a global audience of buyers from every corner of the world.
A mini three-piece series Breathe was also released in 2017 that explored the female form that features Growth, Release and Surrender.
“The colours and expressions I put into these pieces light people up, and I want to keep doing that. Lighting people up”- Zaina AlHizami
Currently Zaina is based in London and works from her West London studio.