Illustrator Rex Dissects the Saudi Arabian Narratives Behind His Mystical Artwork

For the latest episode of HYPEBEAST Diaries.

Art 
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Of the countless canvases, murals and digital artworks that illustrator and street artist Rex has created, nearly every piece tells a story of life in Saudi Arabia. Going behind the scenes of his characteristic pop-art style and unique narratives, the latest episode of HYPEBEAST Diaries follows the artist as he brings to life a mural created in collaboration with MDLBEAST.

Known as the “Banksy of Saudi Arabia” for his distinctively thought-provoking illustrations, Rex has quickly become an unstoppable force in the global art scene. However, his creative journey started relatively small. Moving to New York after university, the illustrator found himself plunged into a new world of art. It was then that he decided to begin “creating his own paintings for himself.”

“I realized there was a missing voice that could possibly represent me and my people so that’s when I turned to painting,” says Rex. Using his new-found love of creating art, he began channeling his feelings for his home country onto the canvas and suddenly, Saudi Arabia became the focal subject of his designs.

But as time went by, the artist’s practice transformed into something deeper. Going through his early paintings of abstract skull-like beings, he adds, “I started to formulate ideas about the system, my background and the culture.” This led to Rex using his understanding to “portray this in a different way in order to change someone’s mind or at least spark a conversation.”

“The work I do in Saudi, for Saudis, is different to the work I do to portray Saudi to the world,” Rex reflects. As a beacon of inspiration for the Jeddah art community, he now feels an added responsibility to champion the local creative scene and see it evolve – just like the region’s Dhad store did for him back in 2015.

For MDLBEAST, the artist reconnected with Dhad store, using its graffiti materials to paint a depiction of the Middle-Eastern “Jalsah” band – a group of musicians playing on classical instruments – on a large-scale facade. Captured in the episode, the mural exudes vibrant colors beyond the festival and into the neighboring desert. Reflecting on the meeting of old traditions and music forms at the event, Rex says, “I’m so blessed to have this amongst great new artists and creators.” His art symbolizes a new-age across the landscape of Saudi Arabia’s creative scene which now permeates around the globe, sharing modern ideas of the region.

To find out more about Rex, watch the full HYPEBEAST Diaries episode above. For more information on MDLBEAST visit its website.

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