Mohammed Sami approaches painting as an allegorical representation of the striking image of conflict and violence. His paintings explore belated memories triggered by common everyday objects from when he immigrated to Sweden as a refugee from his native Iraq.
Rather than using the stereotypical image of trauma to testify to the Iraq conflict, which he witnessed first-hand, Sami deploys painting to articulate war, memory, and loss obliquely. The semi-abstract register and multi-textured paint create a nuanced relationship between the original event and its present recollection in Sami’s artworks. These often appear playful, yet traditional genres such as the still-life, internal-external spaces and landscapes acquire a strange twist, muted, and turn into uncanny illusions and yet, threaten.
Sami uses Arabic linguistic signifiers such as Metonymy and Pun as metaphorical elements to exchange the radical depiction of trauma and conflict with the image of banal and mundane. Therefore, in many cases, his paintings eluded the classification as trauma, enabling a transitive context for the viewers and avoiding being didactic. The affective nature of his paintings does not convey a concrete message. It aims to thrust the viewers into an involuntary mode of critical inquiry rather than a specific truth.
Sami’s painting challenges the typical image of suffering and provides a symptomatic perspective of conflict dynamics and its effects through a slow personal reading. His autobiographical works aim to evoke a widespread sense of loss that inhabits cultures collectively when it extends selfishness into generosity.
Born in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1984, Sami lives and works in London, UK. Having completed studies in drawing and painting at the Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad, 2005. Sami graduated from Belfast School of Art in 2015 and earned an MFA at Goldsmith’s College, London, in 2018.
The Arts Council Collection, London, holds his paintings; The Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam; The Blenheim Art Foundation, Woodstock; The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; the Government Art Collection, London; the HE Museum, Foshan; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; LACMA, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York (MOMA); The Imperial War Museum, London; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Tate, London; Christen Sveaas Art Foundation, Oslo; and York Art Gallery, York.
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