Mohammed Hammad was born 1983, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, soon after which, his family relocated to NYC. He spent his childhood in London, England, and adolescence in Paris, France, where he remained until he graduated from university. He then moved to Dubai, working in the Middle Eastern TV and film industry for 8 years, servicing clients such as National Geographic and MTV. He is currently active as a filmmaker and visual artist in NYC.
Mohammed displayed a natural artistic ability at a very young age. His commitment to fine arts blossomed during his formative years in Paris. He grew up an avid lover of 90’s hip-hip, producing music with his schoolmates, and credits much of his art style to influences from the raw expressionist nature of street art and it’s “freestyle” method of application.
Mohammed’s TV and film work has been viewed by millions of viewers on prime-time TV across the Middle East. His art work has been exhibited in several group shows in the Middle East and NYC, and featured in international arts and culture publications.
A stark contrast lies between the liberal European metropolitan cities where I was raised and the Middle Eastern country where I was born, Saudi Arabia, governed by the strict ideologies of Wahabi Islam. Through my art, I deal with the internal conflict brought about by my fragmented national identities, conventional ideologies of heritage, cultural expectations, and dichotomous feelings of belonging and alienation.
When asked “where are you from?”, a question that would normally be a simple one worded answer to most, I answer with a tiresome existential, long-winded script of an explanation. Wondering, in what context does this person mean “where from?”
In an attempt to understand the root of national pride, alienation, and belonging, I have naturally been attracted to phenomenologies of the social sciences and how they are tied to our physiological nature, as well as technological advancements that transcend cultural identities.
In the selfish struggle against the feeling of alienation we connect to like-minded beings, whether in their religious, political, occupational, or habitual views, and in the process, we work our way beyond self-purpose, a mere manifestation of how we function on a cellular level. So much so, that our greatest technological achievement, the internet, has been a tool primarily used to connect with like minded peers.
My process usually begins with a selection of colors, which I pour, drip, splatter, knife, and etch with acrylic paint and various tools, until there is a somewhat harmonized composition of basic shapes and colors. Afterwards, my imagination identifies the faces and characters that have by chance appeared in the intentional chaos of my initial treatment of the canvas. I then paint the faces and bring them out so that they are not only clear to me, but become fixed for the viewer as well. Over 10 years in the making, I have evolved the identity of my self-sustained wandering entities that are suspended in time and space.