Moayad Lingga: The ‘archi-visualist’

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Updated 07 October 2015
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Moayad Lingga: The ‘archi-visualist’

Born and raised in Jeddah, 25-year-old Moayad Lingga grew up in an artistic home. In 2007, teenage Lingga moved to Portland, Oregon where he graduated from high school and still resides. Last year he graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and currently is interning at an advertising agency. Aside from his dedication and passion for what he does, what makes Lingga stand out is his appreciation and incorporation of art as a tool to tell a story. For this artist, he has chosen architecture, carpentry, Islamic art and graphic design to tell his story.
A self-taught carpenter, he finds gratification in working with wood as his main material, add metal welding to the project and he considers it also a learning experience. As a carpenter, he has enjoyed opportunities “to work first hand on a number of design-build community projects,” for the past five years. In addition, he has had the luxury of building his own furniture for his studio. Lingga sets himself apart from others by being completely hands-on from start to finish of a project. In contrast to other artists who might send their concepts to fabrication shops to be made, he explains, “I tend to create, and fabricate my own art.” This is evident from his documented work which is available to view on his website www.moalingga.com.

In an interview with Arab News, architect Moayad Lingga lays out what architecture means to him, how he creates art to tell his story, and the reception his work receives.

First, what inspires you?
Most of my work inspiration comes from everyday scenes of modern daily life, though I tend to highlight controversial ideas that initiate conversation. These arguments are usually both positive and negative and the vibe that they create end up fueling me to produce the next controversial work.

You began sketching floor plans at the age of nine. What about architecture that captured your attention and not to mention dedication?
Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “Every great architect is — necessarily — a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.” Architecture is a form of art that I have always wanted to master because historically architecture represented nations, cultures, and religions. Nothing is more powerful than designing a structure, which tells a story about itself without the need of human narration.
When I was little I used to redecorate my bedroom at least once every couple of months by moving the bed and my desk around. I found it very refreshing and entertaining to have the freedom to basically live whatever lifestyle I was into. Sometimes I had my bed next to a sunny window, or moved it away so the sun would not bother me.
I grew up wanting to design and build for others. A while ago, my ultimate dream was to have the challenge of an empty room with a description of a style and a limited budget to design, build, and decorate. That dream came true in 2013 when I was commissioned by a close friend in the States to completely redesign his small restaurant with a budget of only $500 and a time frame of two weeks. I was able to create what I would call satisfying results with that limited budget. From that point, my next ultimate dream got bigger, and it is now to design and build a whole office space or company.

You explain that your work is a reflection of the story of who you are and where you come from. Why did you choose carpentry to deliver this message?
Carpentry is a skill set and a powerful tool if one can take advantage of it. Most, if not the majority, of my art projects were done by hand from recycled or trashed wood that was found thrown away in recycling bins or on the street.
When living in a place like Portland, Oregon (the greenest city in the States) wood is one of the primary materials used everywhere. This results in a lot of discarded left over or trashed wood despite being in good condition. I spent the last few years getting to know the different types of wood while working with a lot of different types to master the skill and to be able to come up with my own techniques to build anything. I find wood as a material beautifully appealing and it carries a weight (literally) of the idea of the project.

Also, what drew you to Islamic art specifically?
Personally, I believed that the best way to represent who I am and where I came from is through expressing my endless addiction to Islamic patterns as seen while growing up in Roshan of Al-Mashrabya in the old houses of the Al-Balad area in Jeddah.
I was able to incorporate a similar geometric style used in a recent project called “The Other Mehrab,” which allowed Westerners to be immersed in the shadow of Islamic patterns when standing inside of the Mehrab.

Which do you feel expresses your message the most, your Islamic woodwork or your graphics?
A mixture of both; even though I dislike to be titled one thing over the other, but every project starts with a sketch on paper, then graphically designed on the computer in 2D to 3D. Finally, I make the actual project out of whatever material best represents the idea.
This leads me to talk about titles. Whether I do carpentry, sculptures, graphic design, film, or architecture I prefer to be called just an artist. Metaphorically, I think all small acts in our daily lives from eating to talking are considered art. Humans were created to always strive to master at least one or two and try to be good at the rest. Therefore, I think of everyone as a born artist, and I think kids should be reminded/motivated to be artists in their lives.

The shows and exhibitions you have participated in have been mostly in America. How has your Eastern and Islamic influenced artwork been received by Western audiences?
First of all, I find myself lucky to have exhibited in American exhibitions, but it is unfortunate that I was never able to exhibit my work in Saudi even after endless tries.
Westerners have always been very curious about the Eastern world. So whenever foreign artwork is exhibited they tend to want to learn about the personal, cultural, political, and often the religious aspects of the work. They show excitement and acceptance, which I find very comforting to any artist because it allows the artist to work without limits or boundaries to the their ideas no matter how difficult it is to be accepted sometimes.

Please tell us about Tarajom.
Tarajom is the art of recollecting important values from the past and presenting them in a modern way. It started as a series of art pieces, each one talked about a part of my history but in a metaphorical sense shaped in an old saying, “idiom.” These designs were first created on the computer, than laser cut on wood. After receiving a large amount of feedback, I decided to print these designs on shirts. My plan was to use the shirts as canvases for my art to be displayed everywhere all the time instead of a singular wooden piece in a singular gallery. So far, I have over 15 different designs and counting. The end goal is to establish Tarajom as an international brand where my art can be sold and be a larger umbrella for young artist collaboration.

What do you feel you have to offer to the thriving Saudi art community?
It is definite that the Saudi art community is in continuous growth, as I can see from social media. I have not worked nor presented my work in Saudi so my expectations are almost unexpected. But to be completely fair, whenever I post a picture of a wooden piece on Instagram, I receive many private messages from people asking what my major is and if this is part of the practice for that major. This indicates to me a percentage of people who are willing to get rough and dirty working in a shop for the sake of making something meaningful and dear to them.

Who have been your biggest supporters?
My biggest supporter is my father, Dr. Marwan Lingga. My father was a big part of my inspiration to work with my hands. Even though my family is always supporting me physically, economically, and emotionally, my father gives me the hardest time due to his continuous constructive criticism. We may have our differences and ways of seeing the world today, but he tends to criticize my work for the sake of pushing me to do better and to rework the idea to make it stronger. Aside from family, my close friends, loved ones, and people who follow my journey are strong supporters.

Email: [email protected]


Anime adventure as Kingdom joins forces with Tokyo studio

Updated 19 May 2019
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Anime adventure as Kingdom joins forces with Tokyo studio

 

CANNES: Anime, or Japanese animation, has been a favorite with young Saudis for decades and now the Kingdom is about to star in a feature-length production of its own.

Manga Productions, a subsidiary of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Misk Foundation, will collaborate with Tokyo-based Toei Animation to produce a feature film, “The Journey,” which will be partially set in the Kingdom 1,500 years ago. 

Toei, the studio behind animation franchises such as “Dragon Ball Z,” “One Piece” and “Sailor Moon,” will bring top Japanese talent to the project, including character designer Tetsuro Iwamoto (“Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney”) and composer Kaoru Wada (“Inuyasha”).

Manga is keeping many plot and location details secret, but has released a teaser trailer and poster revealing the name of the film’s hero — Aws.

A poster for the upcoming film. (Supplied) 

“The film is talking about old civilizations in the Arabian peninsula — a people who are trying to protect their city from a strong enemy,” Manga CEO Bukhary Essam told Arab News. “The hero has a backstory that no one knows and which will affect the destiny of the city.”

Animation work on “The Journey” will be done in both Riyadh and Tokyo, with 12 Saudis involved in story development, character design, preproduction, storyboards and coloring.  The film will take two years to complete and will employ a production team of over 330 people.

The joint production will help develop Saudi talent so that an industry can be built in the Kingdom, Essam said.

Manga CEO Bukhary Essam. (Supplied)

“Our ultimate goal is to transfer the technology and know-how to Saudi talents so that by 2030 Manga Productions will have the capability to produce animation by itself,” he said.

“Most young Saudis loved Japanese animation when we were kids. We believe it’s time to export our characters and our heroes to Japan and the world. We don’t want to only export oil and petrochemicals, we want to export arts, animation, video gaming and manga to a global audience.”

Essam’s love of anime and Saudis’ passion for the art form helped convince Toei Animation to take on the project.

“It’s not just a movie — it’s about cultural exchange and forming a connection between countries, Shinji Shimizu, Toei’s managing director, said. “Japan is at the top level worldwide, so we can help Saudi Arabia develop its animation industry.

“We Japanese don’t know much about the Middle East or Saudi Arabia, but we know that Saudi people love to watch Japanese animation.”

Manga is employing historical advisers to ensure the film captures Saudi Arabia’s authentic past, while a Japanese team has returned to the Kingdom to scout locations for the production.
 
According to Shimizu, the Japanese team sometimes gets carried away making designs look “cool.”

“The Saudi team will say, ‘no, it should be real.’ We give honest opinions to each other. Everything is being made with the suggestions and opinions of the Saudi team,” says Shimizu. “Japanese people are not familiar with Middle East culture, but as they make animation together, they learn from the Saudi team about their culture, language and traditions.

“It’s really fun for them, too. We have differences, but I realized from making this animation together that we’re all just human — we are all the same.”

The film will be released in both Japanese and Arabic, with an English version possibly to follow.

Manga and Toei’s first joint production was “The Woodcutter’s Treasure,” a 20-minute animation based on Saudi Arabian folklore. The team is also producing a 13-episode animated TV series.