March 26 – April 18, 2019
This exhibition features the latest stylized works of Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammad. Best known for his bronze sculptures and addressing emotions of human suffering, these materials, forms and concepts have been transformed in a new way. His current work revolves around ongoing notions of migration, the transitional mental and physical state of leaving a known, yet distressing place in search of improved circumstances. In these works he captures moments and emotions of the displaced.
The course of Mohammad’s artistic career has been marked by stages, each carefully investigated and thoughtfully created. Though similar themes can be seen throughout, they are always addressed in different ways; each period provides an end but also a beginning to further develop practice and concept. Previously, feelings of confinement and struggle were expressed intricately and intensely in his three-dimensional works, capturing human suffering in the grimaces of facial expressions and dynamic bodily gestures.
In his current stage, Mohammad has evolved his medium and previous notions of restraint and distress. His attention moves to large canvases, that encompass the viewer with its scale, strong colour and content. He sets most of his backgrounds in solid colours, with an intensity and energy reminiscent of Rothko’s paintings; placing the viewer in a conceptual space. The colours used in the ropes represent opposing forces, emphasized further by their intertwining tension. This is a highlighted element in the series, where we see the artist moving further into abstraction.
With this he blends in his familiar figurative style, whilst also introducing a more contemporary view of the human form. Figures depicted in transitional moments emerge from the background, drawing the eye to bold outlines, simplified forms and detailed ghostly figures. Through them we are given an insight of the complexity of emotions related to being displaced.
These paintings are yet another milestone in Mohammad’s oeuvre, where we can see elements from his past work connecting with current ideas, also alluding to the next direction in his artistic career.
Sami Mohammad (b. 1943) is a Kuwaiti artist and sculptor considered one of the pioneers of cultural and artistic movements in Kuwait and throughout the region. He’s best known for his bronze sculptures and for addressing themes related to humanity and human suffering. One of the leading founders of the Free Atelier in Kuwait, his continuous dedication to his work helped push the boundaries of society and greatly contribute to the artistic history of the Arab world.
His interest in sculpture started at a young age, when he would create forms and animals out of the mud traditionally used to build houses in Kuwait. He continued to pursue his artistic interest and in 1966 he received a grant from the Kuwaiti government to further his artistic studies in Cairo, Egypt. In Cairo he learned techniques used by great masters such as Rodin, and was significantly inspired with all the sculptures he experienced there. In 1974 he travelled to New Jersey, USA where he learned advanced techniques in sculpting, casting and molding. After graduating, he returned to Kuwait where he continued his practice methodically and meticulously.
His first notable sculptures were of the Kuwaiti Emirs Sheikh Abdallah Al Salem and Sheikh Sabah Al Salem as well as other commemorative pieces commissioned by the Kuwaiti government. He continued working and exhibiting relentlessly, always moving forward and developing not only as an artist, but also by supporting his peersand encouraging the cultural scene as a whole. In 2015, he had his first Retrospective, received the Kuwait State Appreciation Award, and had books of his life and work included the US Library of Congress.
His work was featured in the Kuwaiti Pavilion of the 55th Venice Biennale and he has exhibited internationally and throughout the Arab region. He is one of the first Kuwaiti artists to sell his work in Christie’s, has won numerous awards and his artwork forms part of various public and private collections.