Faraj Daham’s work is inspired by the transformation of the world around him and responds to the rapid changes experienced in Qatari society because of the sudden move from the traditional social organization and economy to that of a global city. As a result, the oil industry plays a major role in Daham’s work. Oil is important not only because of the financial wealth it brought to the artist’s nation, but also as a source for his paintings, which often incorporate found materials derived from oil or related minerals. A founding member of the Qatar Fine Arts Society and a longtime member of the Al-Jasra Club, Daham is also committed to artistic education, mentoring young Qatari artists and writing art criticism for journals and newspapers.
Daham’s heterogeneous work is informed by philosophy and mathematics and he considers social injustice and the position of individuals within a complex political environment using recycled materials collected around the city of Doha. Although his earlier works were largely realistic paintings depicting scenes from around the city, over the course of his career Daham’s art has grown more visually abstract, materially diverse and socially engaged. Distorted limbs and fragmented human bodies, masses of bright, at times aggressive, color and ornamental, patterned motifs taken from fabrics characterize his work, in which the human body is often more symbolic than figurative. Taking physical obstacles and barriers culled from the street as a point of material and conceptual departure, Daham thus invents an artistic vocabulary informed by, and connected to, a quickly changing society.