Mohammed Sami’s poignant and evocative paintings are an exploration of memory, and its vulnerability to time. Absent of people, the settings and quotidian objects in his works are nevertheless permeated with the trace of human presence; while evidence of turmoil or trauma is never directly referenced, obscure and haunting narratives are conveyed. Sami mines personal experiences from his formative years in Iraq to ground his work, but by embracing ambiguity, he creates a sense of universal familiarity. Negotiating the past through painting, he harnesses the metaphorical potential of different mark-making techniques to interrupt a straightforward narrative reading. Blurred objects often appear as if they are coming apart or moving across the canvas itself, suggesting gaps or slippage of memory. Sami’s compositions unfurl as cryptic vignettes of fragmented scenes, excavated from the past.
Sami was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1984, and he currently lives and works in London, UK. He studied drawing and painting at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad, graduating in 2004-05. Subsequently, he worked at the Ministry of Culture in Baghdad, before being granted asylum in Sweden in 2007, where he lived for almost a decade. In 2015, Sami left his adopted country to pursue a degree at Ulster University-Belfast School of Art, Northern Ireland, which was followed by a Masters in Fine Arts at Goldsmiths College, London, completed in 2018. His work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including Mixing It Up: Painting Today at Hayward Gallery, London, UK (2021); Stilla liv (Still life), Gallery Magnus Karlsson, Gotland, Sweden (2021); The Sea is the Limit, York Art Gallery, UK and Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, Doha, Qatar (2018-19); as well as The Culture Night of Norrköping City, Norrköping Art Museum, Sweden (2011). Sami’s work is in the permanent collections of Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Tate, London, England; Arts Council Collection, London, UK; The Government Art Collection, London, UK; York Art Gallery, York, UK; and the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, Baghdad, Iraq. A solo exhibition of Sami’s work recently opened to wide acclaim at Camden Art Centre; the show will travel to the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-On- Sea, England in June 2023. His work is also currently on view in the 58th Carnegie International in Pittsburgh, PA.