MEMORIES ON CANVAS

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 – Sharing his passion for drawing and painting is renowned Bahraini artist, Mohammed Al Mahd

Mohammed Al Mahdi is an artist who has given his art a uniquely creative bend. He is an artist who has given form to the memories of his childhood on his canvas for the world to see. Our first question to Mohammed was about his transition from coal drawings on walls to the canvas masterpieces that have left art enthusiasts impressed. And thus we gained insight of this gifted artist, making the Kingdom proud with his immense talent.

How would you describe your journey as an artist from using charcoal on the streets to acrylics now?

Ever since I was a child, drawing was my passion; the pencil was my first toy and I would scribble around with it on anything I could lay my hands on, particularly on the walls of the house. I was not even five years old then, and I used to draw animals and birds on the walls of our home as I really loved those beings.

I was a stubborn child; my father always scolded me for drawing all around and used to take my pencils away, but I never gave up. Once while I was playing with the other kids, black stones on the floor caught my attention. I did not know what they were but I discovered I could draw using these stones and later learned that they were charcoal.

Soon I started filling the walls of our neighbours with my charcoal drawings, not aware of the enormity of the problem that I would face. Soon, my father started receiving complaints from neighbours and he punished me by locking me inside the house. Being at home all the time got me bored and by coincidence I found a pencil. I carefully hid it inside my wardrobe and started using it indoors. One day, I heard my mother calling my little brother and I thought he was outside. I rushed out of the house and onto the street where a speeding car hit me and took a large chunk of my childhood away. I was bedridden for a long time and my parents helped me overcome the trauma by providing me with pencils and paper so that I could draw.

Since then, I have been drawing and painting regularly. But all the while I was trying to find a style that would suit me. One day, I went to our garage and found my old closet there; I looked inside it and found my drawings which brought back memories of the past. I decided to use them to express and describe what happened or what I think will happen to me in the future. The memories of my childhood will remain the center subject of my drawings and even constitute my memoirs drawn on fabric, not written on paper.

Every person has a life changing event pushing them to follow their passion. What was yours?

Starting with my first car accident when I was young to the last two events that caused me pain have been reflected on the canvas. When I’m in pain, I remember the accident. Memory is held captive in my work.

All your paintings carry themes that are represent real life. How do you manage that? Especially the ones like your painting honouring the memory of a toddler who disappeared mysteriously in the kingdom?

Even though my works are childish, giving a realistic sense to the theme is my way of expression, especially since my first accident left a significant impact on me and the wound is still raw. Most of my paintings reflect my childhood. And the case of the lost child, Badr, deeply affected me. I could never imagine someone disappearing in my small nation!

Keeping it really simple…. how would you like to describe your art works?

My work, as the way critic and artist Balqees Fakhro describes them: they belong to the personalised abstract. I consider my works as my book of memories.

“For our childhood, surrounded by deceptive lies…” These were your own words for your exhibition ‘Superheroes’. What made you give those words?

I was referring to the hero or the saviour of the world that the west portrays via cartoons, while in reality he/she doesn’t exist. So who is the saviour of the world now!!!

Could you give us a brief of your latest work? When and where will your followers get to have the first look?

My latest work is an art book which is entirely a work of my hands. The recipient can browse through my work with his/her hand. It carries the memories of a marriage. It was displayed at Riwaq Gallery at ArtBahrain.

Having followed your passion as part and parcel of your life, what would be your message to the upcoming artists of our society?

My advice to anyone who enters the art scene is to read and experiment in order to enrich his/her experience, as the content is important to send a message that can be understood by the world through one’s work.