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Fazad’s red, black and white passion
When you enter his home studio in Diego Martin, the first thing that strikes you are the Buddhas. There are several of them, part of the eclectic décor of this quiet, well-ordered space where Fazad Mohammed has just put the final touches to the art pieces for his first exhibition Life and Passion. The show opened on November 26 and continues until December 3 at the Art Society of T&T in Federation Park, Port-of-Spain.
Upstairs, in Mohammed’s work studio, the place is spotlessly clean—no paint splatters, messy experiments or creative clutter disturb the clean white drawing table, or the well-organised storage areas. Supplies, from paintbrushes to all kinds of paint tubes, canisters and related design tools, are ordered neatly in large sectioned storage pockets hanging on two walls.
And surrounding us are many of the paintings from the current exhibition.
“A lot of people say—You’re too clean for an artist...but I function better in an ordered environment.” I think it’s my training from 14 years in the corporate world,” he comments.
Mohammed may be better known as a communications specialist in public relations and branding.
He worked for about eight years in corporate communications at BP T&T, doing an internship right after graduating from UWI in 2000 (he majored in sociology, with minors in human resource management and politics.)
After BP, he worked in corporate communications management at ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel and mining company, at their Pt Lisas plant.
He earned an MBA in 2011.
Why, then, the new interest in art?
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“I’ve always had a passion for art,” said Mohammed, saying Art and Craft were his favourite subjects at El Dorado Secondary School. He remembered doing paintings of flowers for his retiring principal Hebe Millette many years ago. But he said as soon as he has ever had to sit an exam in anything, he started to hate it: so he never pursued art academically, because he wanted to preserve his enjoyment of it.
Years later, at work in BP, a colleague saw him doodling with red and black pens during a routine meeting. “You had fun at that meeting, didn't you?” asked the colleague. “Yes, I did,” Mohammed replied.
He dreamed then of having an exhibition done all in red, white and black.
“It's reconnecting with what T&T stands for....I am a Trini to the bone. I am very passionate about my country. I love my country. I love the energy and vibe of the people. We have so much talent and so much to offer this world that is so untapped at the moment.”
From doing personalised invitations to events, to discovering the joys of Photoshop and designing his own tattoos, he taught himself several graphic and photo-editing techniques. Mohammed said he is very grateful to Dianne Hunt (co-founder of Radical Designs, owner of DH Gift stores and Dianne's Tea Shop) who gave him his first big artistic break to design male costumes for her section in Island People. Mohammed designed Carnival costumes for five years for Island People.
Right now, he's taking a break from corporate T&T through his art on canvas.
His work in the Life and Passion exhibition shows use of expressive line, use of flat planes of colour to symbolically define various images, and a graphic obsession with fine, often careful detailing. One work shows a fascination with intricate patternmaking, using the photoshopped branches of trees, repeated and overlapped, to form echoes of faces and possibly spiritual or cryptic symbols in what seems like a linear version of a Rorschach test. Some pieces echo the lines of a mas band player, others have a more surface, decorative feel. Many show careful precision and a preference for symmetry.
“My works are 100 per cent planned,” he said. So, no happy accidents!
Mohammed has more than 32 pieces in the show, all produced over a six-month period. There are gemstones in the pieces, such as crystals, bronze mother-of-pearl, rubies or the 25-carat gold infused in the paint of some works. One piece includes textures built up by use of curved koa leaves, overpainted. The work includes acrylic on canvas, watercolours and graphic works reproduced on silk. He has vectorised all of the paintings so they can be used easily as prints or scaled up to large sizes as interior design accents for walls.
One series explores themes of love, and souls trying to find each other through time, he said. Other paintings show an interest in religious and spiritual subjects: a swirl of symbolic pilgrims at Mecca; the temple by the sea; images of Buddha. Another series explores different aspects of love: lust, passion and spiritual love.
Red, for him, is the colour of passion, the “bloodline of the people of T&T.” There's a lot of red in the art works.
Mohammed loves modern abstract art, but finds a scarcity of this style made by local artists – especially local abstract art that is about our own culture and rich history, he says.
He has simple advice for aspiring artists thinking about having their very first show: “Take the risk.” Sometimes in life, he believes things happen that are beneficial for you, even if they are not what you thought you wanted, he said.
He believes we need to free up our preconceptions about what makes up art. It can be any medium, he feels.
He says he's absolutely fine with people seeing their own meanings in his art works:
“You see for yourself. Make your own sense.”
What: Art exhibition by Fazad Mohammed
Where: Art Society of T&T, corner Jamaica Blvd & St Vincent Ave, Federation Park, Port-of-Spain
When: Nov 26 – Opening reception, 7-9 pm. Nov 27 - Dec 3, 10 am – 5 pm daily.
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