I like the overall mystery behind the fragments. I like to think of them as unfinished conversations and expressed emotions. Something that always lingers around.
Maldha Mohamed is a self-taught artist from the archipelago of the Maldives islands who has been professionally pursuing a career in art since the mere age of 15. Her oil an impasto paintings are a medley of fragmented portraiture rendered in a contemporary manner with a hint of surrealism.
They pose a visceral representation of human behaviour and emotion as well as a reflection of the thoughts and dreams that dwell inside her own psyche. The textured surface, the hues and colors and the play on lightning give her paintings incredible life. Yet, due to the fragmented nature of their subject matter, there seems to always be something that lies beyond the scope of the painting, something at which the viewer can only guess...
We interviewed the young artist to learn more about the thoughts behind her work.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Q. Did you always want to be an artist?
A. Ever since the age of 2 or 3, I’ve been surrounded by sketchbooks and coloring books. Since then, I had my mind made up on growing up and being an artist. When talking about future aspirations, all the other kids in my preschool class would tell the teacher that they want to grow up to become a doctor or a police officer, but for me it’s always been an artist and I’ve been on that path ever since.
Q. How has your artistic practice evolved overtime?
A. When I was a few years younger, I used to
carefully lay out the plans of the concepts I wanted to create. Each process,
step by step until one day it just started feeling repetitive and forced and I
didn’t enjoy doing it as much. However, as time went by, I discovered how to
allow myself to be more free with how I work and create. I do not plan too
much and instead try to convey how I am feeling directly onto the canvas, rather than forcing it out of me.
Q. Many of your paintings feature just a fragment, mainly the eyes, instead of a full portrait, what would you like to show with this fragmentation?
A. Fleeting thoughts. I believe that the mind is a very fast paced, complex thing where so many thoughts and feelings come together. For me, the fragmentation allows me to pause for a moment and paint the way I feel, sometimes not all at once, but in bits and pieces. It allows me to unwind in a way and I feel like my art is the most authentic in these moments.
I like the overall mystery behind the fragments. I like to think of them as unfinished conversations and expressed emotions. Something that always lingers.
Q. Your work often has a dreamlike quality, does it derive from your personal dreams or imagination?
A. Faces, especially eyes in abundance were something I often saw vividly in my dreams as a child. This dream was repetitive. It was eerie, but it became comforting as time went on. They would appear to show the world almost as if it were stuck in a time lapse, which provoked my interest in the concept of time. I like to convey the subjects as if they are in a constant battle against time, always fleeting.
Q. What would you like your work to evoke in the viewer?
A. I would like my work to evoke a sense of mystery and curiosity. I do not want to create art that looks aesthetically pleasing. I create my concepts so that every single person who observes my work is able to interpret it in whatever way they want. For example, I may paint an eye that shows general signs of “happiness”. Perhaps through the way the eyebrows are positioned, or the way the corners of the eye is crinkled. Yet there are always people who surprise you. They might comment on that particular image saying, “I think this person is enduring internal suffering and everything is not what it appears to be”. That is what I want to evoke in the viewer. The curiosity to interpret the pieces as they see fit.
Q. How do you feel about the increased accessibility that comes with selling art online? Has it influenced your life as an artist?
A. Growing up in one of the smallest countries in all of SouthEast Asia where an art community was more or less non-existent, it was very hard to seek out resources and opportunities to sell my art. One of the only opportunities to do so was at the annual national art exhibition and even then, it would be rare for any artist to make a sale. People would not be aware of the value of art, and most of us would undervalue our work in order to try to get any local sales.
It was in this frustration that I decided to turn to Instagram as a platform to try and gain exposure and to sell my art. For me personally, I will say it has been the biggest blessing of my life. It allowed me to seek out opportunities, to value my art correctly and grow a following. It has brought me exceptional levels of accessibility that I would have never had.
Q. What would you still like to achieve as an artist?
A. I just want to be as honest and authentic as I can be with my work, because in a sense it is my salvation. As a young teenager, I spent so much of my time researching art, following other artists on social media and trying to get my hands on books about art. During those times, there would be these artworks that I would stumble upon - seeing them would make me feel at peace and it would evoke this feeling of appreciation and calm. I only hope that I can create work that makes someone else feel that way. In the future, I would hope to grow as an artist and become one of the biggest names that ever came from South East Asia and from my ethnicity.