AN IN-DEPTH CONVERSATION WITH UNRULY SAUDI POP ARTIST: REX CHOUK.
Rex Chouk is a Multi-Media Saudi Pop Artist from Jeddah, making waves all over Saudi Arabia. He keeps his identity anonymous and disguises himself with a mask he refers to as ‘Chouka’ and ‘Choomy’. His artworks are a contemporary commentary of the system, he uses characters and expressions imbued with icons and slang from global pop culture to describe the status quo and the events taking place in the world. Rex's work is becoming more and more relevant as cultural reforms and a bigger emphasis on arts take place in Saudi Arabia. We have an in-depth conversation with Rex about his beginnings in art, reactions to his work and more.
-What got you into art, was it always a passion of yours?
I never considered myself an artist or even thought of pursuing art, in fact, I started creating in 2013! What got me into art is the idea of it being immortal in a way, and how it can be referenced in history to describe or understand a culture in a certain point of time. I also find art to be therapeutic and soulful. I certainly enjoy the process of creating as much, if not more, than the final outcome.
-How do Saudis react to your work?
I think people try to understand my messages even if they are vague or unclear, sometimes they laugh, ask questions or even challenge my ideas. But overall, I would say there is a sense of curiosity.
- How do foreigners react to your work?
I think it helps people relate or try to understand the Arabian culture from a different perspective. A perspective that allows them to engage in a conversation about stereotypes and misconceptions.
-How did living in New York influence your style?
I feel like I always had my “style” but, what I learned in NYC is that truly, anything is possible! I also learned a lot from artists around me as, it was a city full of talent expression and ambition.
-What does "REX" the main character in many of your pieces represent?
Rex, represents an eternal spirit and in my artwork, he is the reference point for the viewer. The character is light-hearted and not a preacher, rather a food for thought chef ;)
-You use the theme of space a lot in your work, what is the idea behind it?
The eternal spirit, the bigger picture, the universe. The eternal home from a worldly perspective.
-What is your favorite piece of work and why?
I don't have a favorite, but I do enjoy my earliest works and how raw they were in terms of technique. It is always wonderful to look back at the different steps I took naturally and how I continue to evolve.
-How challenging is it to make art for a living and have a business around your art?
Extremely tough! It was a scary step for me but I decided to pursue it after testing the waters for a couple of years. I would say approaching it as a business is a healthy way to look at monetizing it and setting some targets as well. And like every business, you need to have contingency plans and give it your all.
-How was it collaborating with G-Shock?
It was a dream collaboration for me, all I wear is Gshock #PlasticDiamondsOnMyWriss, so when it came to be it was a special moment. We did 70 watches in a pop up and we sold out too, so that was dope!
-What do you think of the art/creative scene in Saudi Arabia and where do you see it going?
I like it, there’s more expression, more talent and more energy! Like any scene, it will take it's time to grow, but I think we finally have the right environment for it to flourish. I’d be interested to hear what people who are not creatives think about the art scene here.
-Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
-From experimenting with canvases in 2014, to where you are now, what are the 3 most important lessons you learned from your journey so far?
-Things don't go as planned so don't have too many expectations.
-Consistency is key and it will guide you to your next “IT”
-If you want it you really have to go all in for it or you're just wasting time.
+ a 4th one for the culture: It is okay to fail and it is okay to be insecure #KeepGoing.
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