MOHAMMED SAMI (IQ/SE)
Mohammed Sami is a painter of one discourse, and has all the chances of becoming its master. He performs visual dissections of violence, terror and death with precision and responsibility, creating monumental paintings to reflect on the fateful everyday realities of millions of people around the world.
Mohammed Sami’s paintings bear within them crucial underlying themes, which the artist has been exploring since fleeing war-torn native Iraq: trauma, migration, broken geographies and ruptured identities. The choice to work within these themes was so powerful, so inescapable, that it became the linchpin of Mohammed Sami’s work: he paints because he needs to tell these stories. They are the drive, flesh and purpose of his artistic career, as the painter sees it as his duty to share and translate the visions he has stored in his memory.
Tragic fragments make up Mohammed Sami’s carefully constructed compositions, emerging precisely on the fine line between figurative and abstract, between explicit depictions of animal carcasses and blurry landscapes of desolation. We see animals that died violent deaths, flashes of explosions, and journeys that never happened. Transport infrastructure is always dysfunctional, reflecting on the physical and symbolic impossibility of escape: roads are cemeteries for animals; airport gates are closed, leaving luggage to accumulate beyond control; maps are rotten; and the weight of violence is too big a burden for the promise of a better elsewhere.
When painting scenes of horror, he does so with such finesse and rigor, that he must add explicitly violent content in order to keep his viewer discomforted. There is no mistaking what this work is about, and no convenience can be found in front of it. Colors are impressively sharp and vivid, but death is always looming behind them, adapted and tireless. The triumph of his painting lies in its being difficult and attractive at the same time, mentally unbearable and aesthetically uplifting. Mohammed Sami is so visually eloquent, that his work makes you cringe, humbles and exalts you at the same time.
Mohammed Sami is a painter with a mission like very few painters are, namely to give dignity back to his people by solemnly telling their story through art. He will not rest until he exorcises all the images that overwhelm his mind into grand canvas compositions, and the visual force that comes from such dedication is simply stunning. Looking back after many years, these will be most valuable documents of the deeply problematic conflicts that continue to mark what the world looks like in the beginning of the 21st century. Mohammed Sami’s work is bursting with potential.
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