Using vintage aesthetics with a modern twist, photographer Abdulaziz Al-Hosni challenges the rules of masculinity
The Oman-based photographer and art director uses fictional narratives to imagine a new, more emotional way for men to exist.
- Olivia Hingley
- 23 June 2022
Abdulaziz Al-Hosni’s photography is a joy to lay eyes upon. Full of grainy textures, over-saturated colours and impeccable styling, the photographer creates a unified sense of atmosphere with his considered and carefully crafted visuals. Through a detailed process of picking the right lighting, filtration and a heavy dose of editing, Abdulaziz achieves his unique style – a “mixed medium between old vintage looks with modern touches,” he tells It’s Nice That.
Since he picked up a camera at 13, Abdulaziz has always been drawn to depicting day-to-day environments and the surroundings he grew up in. Inspired by the music he listens to and his culture, Abdulaziz relies heavily on chance encounters and meeting random people, which often makes new ideas and narratives pop into his head. But, the photographer also draws upon deeply personal happenings too: “I also want to interact with the unpleasant life experiences I go through,” he shares. “I’ve learned to appreciate what I want and what I want people to see reflected in my work.”
There’s much more than simply an aesthetic purpose to Abdulaziz’s stylistic approach. Through juxtaposing vintage imagery with modern objects, themes and clothing, Abdulaziz hopes to bring into question traditional structures and perceptions. “We as young men feel the need to follow rules of masculinity that don’t make sense to me or a lot of people right now,” explains the photographer. “We have the right to have emotions and the right to be free to express and feel what we feel.” While Abdulaziz clearly has some very astute and considered thoughts on the subject, one thing he is keen to maintain is that his images and creative work does most of the talking. “I am trying to break some of these rigid rules without writing a paragraph”, he details, “because if a pin is stronger than a hundred bullets, then a picture is worth more than a hundred words. I create power through visuals, and let the mind explore its meaning.”
One way in which Abdulaziz breaks these rules is through weaving fictional narratives throughout his works. The Habayib Club is one such narrative, a fictionalised club that Abdulaziz has created, for “people who are afraid to express their feelings and emotions”. Conceived in form of a mock-up type of promotional poster for the club, it sees a male figure lounging on a pink spade, drink in hand, and an air of calm made palpable with the pastel colours and reclining position. He’s paid close attention to each element of the image, and the kummah hat that sits atop the subjects head is embroidered with hearts is intended to represent “that love, traditional clothes, and traditions as a whole are in sync”. The drink, Abdulaziz continues to share, is in fact a love potion that, once drunk, gives its consumer the courage to express their emotion.
Love potions are a recurring theme throughout Abdulaziz’s photographs, with the significance being tied to a sense of transformation. In the Magic Land, an image directly inspired by Michael Angelo’s The Creation of Adam, two men sit amongst pyramids, reaching toward one another, the love potion suspended between their hands. “Known for their love of the supernatural, a young Omani man finds himself in ancient Egypt, searching for an ever potent love potion,” Abdulaziz says, sharing the message behind the image. “The young man befriends a young Egyptian boy who has curated and harnessed the power of this potion.” Another image visualises the effects of such a potent potion, with three shirtless men holding a sign upon their shoulders. Having “over-indulged” on the love potion, the men decide to “overthrow the rigid rules of masculinity, to create their own reality of strength and a new ‘masculine’ way of being”. This, Abdualziz explains, is playing on traditional ‘male only’ spaces, that often “push a specific agenda, and a certain way to be masculine”. Going forward, Abdulaziz wants to continue his detailed depiction of the fictional Habayib Club. However, he now wants to explore its much darker, more sinister side.
Abdulaziz Al-Hosni: Magic Land (Copyright ©Abdulaziz Al-Hosni, 2021)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.