Naji Al-Ali: “Borderless”
September 16, 2022
About The Artist
Self-taught artist Naji Al-Ali was born in Dubai, grew up in Qatar, spent summers in Egypt with his family, and moved to Charlotte in 2017. His works of art are influenced by his travels, Palestinian heritage, and present surroundings. Al-Ali developed an affinity for art early on and was inspired by the work of a politically critical Palestinian cartoonist who is his namesake. The nomad-like freedom of his childhood fed his creativity while allowing him to forge new ideas of place and belonging in various pockets of the world. As an artist, Al-Ali thoughtfully conceives of new worlds and employs symbolism imbued by his own sense of belonging, identity, and faith.
Al-Ali observes that his work “started off as paintings and developed meanings.” Though he has never stepped foot in his homeland of Palestine, Al-Ali feels a deep connection to his lineage and roots there. The city of Charlotte also plays a sacred role in his creative life, being the birthplace of his signature Lemonback character described as, “an abstract reflection of the world that we live in.” In addition to Lemonback, which also touches on the lemonback species of pythons, Al-Ali pairs his Free Birds with snake imagery as a symbolic reminder of continual evolution and being grounded on Earth.
Akin to the wind’s guidance of birds as they fly, he lives and works navigated by an intuitive and spiritual source, expressing it as the “Universe telling me how to maneuver.” Through the daintiest of details, seen for example by his working in threes throughout this series, Al-Ali creatively connects to his Islamic-based spirituality and larger purpose. Meticulously attune to the minute elements of each composition, Al-Ali aims to create space for each viewer to dive deeper into their own worlds by working in a manner of simplicity that strokes thought and distinct resonance.
“The Universe is telling me how to maneuver.” —Naji Al-Ali
Constellation CLT is designed to connect visitors of The Mint Museum with the universe of talent in the local community.
Now in its fourth year, Constellation CLT is an exhibition series designed to connect visitors to The Mint Museum with artists in our community, as well as activate the public spaces of the museum. The installations rotate three times per year and can be seen in five places at Mint Museum Uptown: at the foot of the atrium escalator; on the landings of the Mezzanine and 3rd levels; and in the Museum Store.
Constellation CLT is generously presented by: