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Photographer Abdulaziz Al-Hosni challenges the rules of masculinity

Abdulaziz Al-Hosni’s photography is GIVING! There really is no other way to put it. Grainy, hazy 90s-style finishes mixed with a neutral colour palette allow minimal bright colour to really pop and men are framed in a lens that omits both the female and male gaze, neither do they fit binarily into a fluid queer gaze. Sexuality and gender are limitless, freeing the photos’ subjects of any labels or boxes.

The men featured embody both sharp masculinity and soft femininity but even then, cannot be categorised. 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 has shared. “I’ve learned to appreciate what I want and what I want people to see reflected in my work.”

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.”

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.

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