Mohammed Sami Artworks

Mohammed Sami's practice is deeply involved with painting's capacity to record the ghosts of people or events long past, often in oblique and unexpected ways. His large-scale paintings recall the Al Báath murals decorating the walls of his school in Iraq, with multi-textured paint application that verges on abstraction, giving his enigmatic interiors personal meaning that is still ambiguous enough for the viewer to arrive at their own conclusion.

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Early Works

Prior to the autobiographical works he began at Goldsmiths, Sami's large-scale paintings were often entirely abstracted, combining swathes of dark acrylic paint with gestural strokes of vivid white and mixed media. His mixed-media work Do It! (2011) suggests a rock thrown against a shattered mirror behind a barbed wire fence, which viscerally communicates his experiences of war-torn Iraq. Similarly, in Explosion I (2011), a three-dimensional plume of smoke emerges from the canvas, confronting the viewer by physically intruding into the space.

Hottinger Prize

In 2019, Sami was awarded the Hottinger Prize at the Mall Galleries' FBA Futures exhibition, which showcases the best in new figurative drawing, painting, sculpture, and printmaking from graduate artists. His winning painting Unedited Still-Life (2018) depicts an interior scene whose dimensions have been uncomfortably altered. A table stands in the centre surrounded by smashed crockery, a gravity defying-spoon balances on its edge and a phone is hanging off its hook. The floor panelling behind takes the place of both the wall and the floor, effectively flattening the space, toying with multiple perspectives to add an unsettling edge to an already discomforting scene.

Apocrypha

In 2021, Sami's solo exhibition Apocrypha was held at Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, London, his first at the gallery. In the same oblique way as Unedited Still-Life, the featured works toy with ideas of trauma and memory by removing the people involved and hinting instead through semiotics. 'Apocrypha' is a word to describe 'reports not considered genuine,' and ties into a tradition in Middle Eastern literature of saying one thing but meaning another, according to Sami. Skin (2020) shows rolled up carpets stacked against one another—both a metaphor to their intimate cultural ties and also reminiscent of wounded flesh in the flecks of red and white across their surface.

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