06 Sep

Meet the Saudi Artist Behind Kanye’s XTCY Cover Art

Shadi Al-Atallah is one to watch

Written By Amina Kaabi

Just a few weeks ago, Shadi Al-Atallah was trying to navigate her post-graduate life. After university, most people work a few odd jobs and internships before scoring their first big gig, but Al-Atallah was dealt a totally different card.

 

In a matter of days, the 23-year-old Saudi artist was catapulted from total anonymity to the limelight, painting some of the most recognizable faces for one of the world’s biggest rappers.

 

In the midst of prepping for her upcoming course at London’s Royal College of Art, Al-Atallah received a commission request from none other than Kanye West, to paint his wife and her sisters for his latest song release.

 

A few days later, Al-Atallah’s painting went viral as it was released as the official cover art for West’s new single ‘XTCY’. The painting, which is reminiscent of Kanye’s ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ era, is a rendition of a photo taken at Kylie Jenner’s 21st birthday blowout—one that made rounds on social media as the famous sisters posed for the camera with their tongues out, and middle fingers up, with the caption reading: “WE’RE ALL TURNING 21!!”.

 

 

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BIRTHDAY BEHAVIOR! WERE ALL TURNING 21!!

Une publication partagée par Kylie (@kyliejenner) le


Even though the photo was provocative in its own right, in Kanye fashion, the song took things to a new level, with the standout lyric being, “You got a sister-in-law you’d smash? I got four of ‘em”.

 

 

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Stubborn #queerart #print #qc50

Une publication partagée par Shadi Atallah (@ramenate) le


However, Al-Atallah doesn’t seem to be bothered with the song’s content. “I think the artwork I did fits it, because it’s really weird. I’ve had really negative feedback, which I like because I don’t want my work to be really serious. But people were really insulted at how I portrayed the Kardashians and Jenners,” she told Garage magazine in an interview.

 

 

Al-Atallah’s twisted portrayal of the Kardashian-Jenners doesn’t differ from the artist’s previous work. According to her, her work is largely influenced by her childhood in Saudi Arabia, with a strong focus on spirituality, identity, childhood, and mental health. “I dissect these topics in my paintings by distorting the image of my own body in an absurd and clumsy manner,” she says.

 

 

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Prayer ?? #queerart #illustration

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Her art is currently on display until 7 September in London for The People Art Resistance exhibition in collaboration with Afro Punk and 198 CAL’s multidisciplinary art programme.