By Mashaael Basheer
Ever since I started traveling to attend exhibition openings and art fairs 4 years ago, I was asked the same question when I say I am from Kuwait… “Do you know Sami Mohammad?” Who doesn’t?
Sami Mohammad is one of the living legendaries not only in Kuwait’s art scene, but also the Arab World. An artist known for his vivid, harsh sculptures that portrays humanity suffering of endless suppression, injustice and one’s countless means to break boundaries, revolt on oppression… A scream in the face of violence and hate, to run as fast as you can to hit a wall, smash it and keep running regardless of what will put you down and stop you from moving forward. The harshness in Sami’s work provoke people to step back, think and change their reality because it conveys [reality] as it is: cruel.
The journey of Sami was not easy and took a long way to reach where he stands at the moment. Before I sat with him for the interview, I asked myself what do I want to learn from a prominent artist? And what the readers, especially younger artists should know? I was afraid that my spontaneous questions won’t get an answer, as some established artists are hesitant to share their secrets of success, but Sami is different… During the two-days interview, he opened up about so many things and generously embraced all my curious questions about Sami the artist and person, his art, view of the art scene in Kuwait and more. Every week, I will share with you parts of the interview until his long awaited exhibition in Contemporary Art Platform – Kuwait opening on March 14th, 2015. Titled “Sami Mohammad | A Retrospective” and curated by Abed AlKadiri, is a short intense journey of 50 years of art, featuring unique artworks that were never shown before. I have to point out that “Sami Mohammad | A Retrospective” is the 4th solo exhibition of Sami… Yes you read it, the fourth! Why? You will find out in coming weeks.
The first question that came into my mind when I sat with Sami is what made him the artist he is today? How did he become an established sculptor in a society that does not accept realism art from a religious perspective, and lake of appreciation and generous support… An artist’s name linked to the country he comes from which makes other artists ask “Oh you are from Kuwait… Do you Sami Mohammad?”
When someone works to improve themselves regardless of the job, the reward are glorifying for them and what they represent. The first step is to believe the hard work is to reward ourselves mainly, to achieve self-satisfaction, which applies in all careers especially for artists… When I decided to become a full time sculptor and worked in the Kuwaiti Free Art Atelier Artists, it was to protect me as an artist and my art. Now, after 50 years of hard work, you can see tangible results because dedication pays off at the end not only for me but also for my country.
I think this is the secret of my success, because as I said in the beginning work hard for yourself … In every artwork I create, I try to be genuine to myself and the art I am sharing with the public, as only a genuine artwork reachs people, leaves a mark that stays in their minds and effects them… Why are we creating art? This is the hardest question for all artists… to visually please others? express our feelings and thoughts? Or is for fame and money? And whoever is behind fame and money will never last. I consider these people an obstacle for the dedicated, hard working artists, but not for long because only passionate, patient and real artists will stand. This is my motto since the very beginning until now and won’t change… I always was consonant with what I do, whether sculpting or painting, how I feel and what I want to say, never bothered with fame and fortune as they come after a successful person and I can say now that I am satisfied with where I stand now; at the same time, it adds up to my responsibility as an artist & I ask myself “What is next Sami?”… Success should always be a motivation not only a reward, a mean rather than an end.
Next week, Sami Mohammad will take us back in time to his beginning; how the journey started and what was the spark that got him into the world of art, sharing with us stories told for the first time and baring with my endless curiosity! After all, how many times do one gets the chance to talk with an established artist about everything?! See you next week…
To follow up with pre-preparations of “Sami Mohammad | The Retrospective” exhibition, follow Contemporary Art Platform (CAP Kuwait) on: