Can you tell me about your practice? How do you get started on a piece of work?
My work usually starts with an idea in mind, a concept or a series of concepts, which I portray on canvas as a story. The stories are usually derived from personal experiences or experiences I get to live through other people in life basically. After the mental finetuning, I move to the physical aspect, which usually is oil on canvas. I don’t do mockup sketches before starting the bigger work on canvas.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
My primary influence as an artist surprisingly isn’t art or other visual artists, though I was fascinated by a lot of old master paintings because I loved the skill of texture painting and folds in clothes among other things in their works. Music happens to be my main influence and as such, a number of artists I grew up listening to, some even till date; the Jay-Zs, Kanyes and Drakes. I love what they do as creatives and like to apply those ideas to my works, examples being artist collaborations and your works traveling to regions you don’t even have to physically exist in.
Though based in Accra Ghana, storytelling within western music and its impact on young Ghanaians plays a strong role in your artistic practice, can you talk a bit about this and how it influences how you create your work?
To me, I think these musicians present us with the idea of turning dreams and
possibilities into reality through their creative process, although through a different medium, which is sound. Having a front row seat, if I’m not being dramatic, in their artistic lives over years and seeing that growth and constant process fuels my process as well; it shows me how high I can get as an artist, as a brother to my siblings, and as a friend to many, how much I can grow and how longevity as an artist can be achieved.
How important is the choice of material in relation to realizing the concept of your work?
I usually work with oil on canvas, because I believe it’s the best medium for me right now. My choice of material is heavily dependent on how it portrays the richness o the skin of my subjects. The skins I paint are very textured and I like how light bounces of my characters. It also offers some depth to the subjects in my paintings. I am open to experimenting with a lot more, but for now I use oil.
What is your most important tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
My most important tool is my ideas. To me that is a key component of any work of art; a visual representation of ideas. Those ideas will travel further than their
physical manifestation, which is the paintings. Oh, and music too. That’s another too I can work in a studio without. I always have music playing when I paint.
Can you give us a book recommendation that has been important in your practice? And tell us why it’s important.
I’ve read a number of books ranging from art to self-development, but if I had to pick one, it will be Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist.” To not risk spoiling it for anyone, I would not speak much on it, but, this book inspired me to be who and what I am today; a dreamer and an innovator.
Finally, is there anything new coming up that you would like to tell us about?
I am currently working on a series but I wouldn’t want to put the theme and title out yet. It documents the lives and experiences of young people who yearn to travel out of Ghana to seek “greener pastures.” I am excited about this direction I am taking and the new techniques I am experimenting with. My work is being exhibited in “That Wilderness Within” in Barcelona, Spain (Prior Art Space).
1. Abdur Rahman Muhammad, Image Courtesy of Artemartis
2. “Big Ahenemma To Fill”, Oil on Canvas, 2021, Abdur Rahman Muhammad, Image Courtesy of Artemartis
3. Installation Views of “American Boy I” and “Online” at the Birds Of A Feather
Exhibition – A collaboration by Phillips Auction House and Artemartis, 2022, Abdur Rahman Muhammad, Image Courtesy of Phillips Auction House
4. “Online”, Oil on Canvas, 2021, Abdur Rahman Muhammad, Image Courtesy of Artemartis
5. Abdur Rahman Muhammad, Image Courtesy of Artemartis
6. “American Boy II”, Oil on Canvas, 2022, Abdur Rahman Muhammad, Image Courtesy of Artemartis
7. “American Boy I”, Oil on Canvas, 2022, Abdur Rahman Muhammad, Image Courtesy of Artemartis