The 28 year old Brummie has been into graffiti since a young age and now incorporates his faith into his work.
|Mohammed in action|
“Art was my passion,” he said, “when I found religion I changed direction and combined the two together.”
For Mohammed, the fusion between Islamic art and graffiti was more than just experimenting with different styles.
“Islamic calligraphy is the written word of God unlike other religions where figurative depictions of prophets are used. So for me as a graffiti artist I found it a fascinating parallel and where graffiti is normally a selfish glorification of ones own ego, Arabic calligraphy is almost the opposite: the divine script of God.”
His work has been exhibited throughout the UK and recently in Dubai, a place where urban life and modern technology exists alongside beautiful mosques and vast deserts, the contrast echoing Mohammed’s own fusion of old and new.
Although he is used to international success, with Australian and American magazines showing an interest, this was the first time Mohammed’s work had been shown in another country.
“I’ve visited the place numerous times so it was cool to take my work over there. It was a very powerful exhibition and was received very well.”
Denmark’s capital city became the latest overseas place to be graced with the artist’s beautiful work. Copenhagen Skate Park was host to an alternative art and design festival with DJs and exhibitions, and a presentation by Mohammed about his work.
“It was very exciting, the first time my work had been shown in a venue outside the conventional art gallery. It really opened my eyes and made me realise that it’s good to break away from the norm. It was a vibrant crowd and they really appreciated my work.”
With Denmark being the country out of which the controversial blasphemous cartoons featuring the Islamic prophet Muhammad came from, it seemed an ideal place to spread Mohammed’s message of peace and love.
The cartoons sparked an international outrage within the Muslim world and Mohammed believes that this issue was swept under the carpet and forgotten about.
“The debate was never really resolved and I’m ready to challenge that. It was nice to be in Denmark where my work is needed.”
He has also done work for the UK launch of Sony’s PSP (that's Playstation Portable for those of you who’ve been hiding under a rock for the past year).
|Sony PSP exhibition|
He was commissioned alongside other Islamic artists to do the artwork for the launch. Mohammed explained why this was such an exciting opportunity.
“It’s amazing that such a big multi-national company is engaging with Islamic art, recognising the power of communication through art instead of words. Art reaches so much further.”
As if all this isn’t enough, he also runs workshops for kids up and down the country, working with them to produce their own pieces of art using spray cans.
|Look, listen, learn. Photo:Gideon Mendel|
“I put a lot of time and effort into the workshops, as these kids are our future. I try to create some good and get the kids to express positive virtues, as well as giving them an insight into Islam, breaking down barriers and stereotypes.”
He is keen to try and make the children understand and appreciate that his work is not about graffiti, and therefore neither should theirs be.
“They always ask me if they can paint their names but I say no because it’s not about the graffiti; it’s not about yourself and your ego. Don’t look at me; look at the rest of the world.”
|In the workshop. Photo:Gideon Mendel|
Mohammed always hears back from the young people he has worked with, he receives emails and messages on his website guestbook about their progress.
“They leave messages saying 'I’ve been inspired by your work, look at what I’ve done.' It’s really nice to hear back from people and see their art work.”
At the moment Mohammed is working on a piece expressing his feelings on the crisis in Lebanon.
“It really distresses me. I’m not just another 'angry young Muslim', but I do believe it is a duty for everyone who sees an evil to do something about it, try to make a change, even if it’s just speaking up against it.”
Not keen to give too much away, Mohammed told me that the new piece is going to be a strong reminder of the reality of war, something which he feels is glossed over in today’s modern society.
“No one thinks about the death and destruction of innocent people, it’s all about glory and heroism.”
When finished, the piece will be exhibited around the UK and then will go to a charity auction, with all proceeds going to Lebanon to help families out there.
Mohammed also revealed some exciting plans for his new exhibition using multimedia technology to enhance the art work’s impact so keep an eye out for any news on that and check out his website to see his work and what he’s been up to.
Mohammed’s work can be seen in Aston Hall and the Museum of The Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham until October 29th 2006.