One to One
Hatiq Mohammed also known as the Teakster
“The Muslim image that exists hidden behind the image in the media is the true strength of Islam, and I feel that I have the opportunity to strengthen this community even more and bring the truth of our religion and culture to the world through my work and my art.” – Teakster
With RISING 16, another achievement under his belt, Hatiq Mohammed also known as the Teakster, is busy making waves in the contemporary Islamic art scene. The Global Peace Forum RISING 16, inspired and supported by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is held annually in Coventry, the UK’s City of Peace and Reconciliation.
I met Hatiq over the summer whilst we were both working in the Arts and Crafts marquee at the Living Islam festival in Lincolnshire. As a long term admirer of his work, it was a pleasure to meet the person behind the art, art which I find dynamic, vital and engaging. It fills a void in modern Islamic art which is currently inhabited by an interesting range of contemporary reproductions of traditional themes.
Hatiq, how did it all begin for you?
I started my artistic journey as a form of escapism from the frustratingly mundane corporate work. I haven’t had any formal training as I am a great believer in ‘learn-by-doing’. I understand why some people pay to learn about basic techniques but artistic flair cannot be learnt. It takes hours of practice.
Inspired by my Islamic faith as well as by Islam’s early art and calligraphy, I started experimenting with colours and patterns which I combined with my artistic skills to produce the intricate digital art. My art is an extension of who I am. It is a fusion of traditional Islamic art with the British environment that I grew up in. I believe that my ‘cosmopolitan’ work bridges different and diverse cultures.
Islam has a history of creative passion within the artistic, written and spoken world, all of which have represented the key messages in Islam of peace, acceptance, submission to God and the unity of all the people of the world.
What is the main focus of your work?
Islamic art is made up of three major elements; geometry, calligraphy, arabesque. Calligraphy is regarded as the highest form of art in Islam. I utilise all these elements as a foundation to connect each different discipline. Combining traditional methods with colourful and inventive approaches, I build upon these elements to create pieces of original art. I also like to use unique painting and drawing techniques that create textural layers on my artwork.
Your style is unique and contemporary in its approach, what inspires you?
As an artist, we are always looking for the magical moment, the moment when you think of a great idea. Unfortunately, a lot of the time ideas just don’t happen like that. My faith acts as an inspiration for my artwork. I think a lot of people have a negative association with faith but I believe it provides the best foundations to build upon, no matter what area you work in. I don’t have many art works that show negative images since most of the media love to show the horror and evil of the world. I want people to look at something that will bring a smile to their face or give them an inspirational feast for their eyes.
Looking at your work, I’m reminded of the literal and the ephemeral qualities, what is it that you hope to convey through your art?
The messages in my work are about unity and peace. This is a tradition that is deeply rooted in Islamic culture. When people look at my work, I want them to feel an emotion or move something inside them. Art has the power to communicate on a platform unhindered by language barriers and inspire or even reach people at a personal level. This is why Muslims, especially in non-Muslim lands, shouldn’t underestimate the value of their work.
Why are art and creativity important, not just for the next generation but for everyone?
I think great art makes the person think or question the society that they live in. Being an artist as a hobby is fun but it is a different ball-game when you want to make a career out of it. You need to put a lot of time and effort into improving your skills. However, if you plan to make this your career then you’ll be rewarded with being involved in creative projects and pushing your design skills to the max.
“A Muslim artist should be a mirror for our Islamic heritage.” Teakster
For more information on Hatiq Mohammed’s work go to teakster.co.uk
Do try this at home
From time immemorial man has engaged in mark making as a form of expression. It is a method of creativity that has formed a timeline of our existence on earth as well as an indication of our personal and social development. From cave drawings on walls to etchings on a fossilised stone, this activity reflects our inherent need for creative expression.
In keeping with this, we are exploring the art of scribble drawing. This is basically the habit of drawing without allowing the pencil to be lifted from the page. Using your imagination to express something on paper is a good way of releasing tension and helps you to think more clearly. It can also help to improve your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
First, take a moment to decide what you would like to draw. A landscape, object or memory. Now, close your eyes and, with pencil poised on the paper in front of you, begin to draw. You may decide to use your free hand to guide you so as not to leave the page. Work in small areas initially and slowly fill the page. Or decide whether to use a heavy or delicate touch when mark making.
The object of this exercise is to trust the process. Take a few moments to construct your drawing, using your mind’s eye to imagine a picture which your hand will draw obliviously without a visual awareness of scale or perspective. When you open your eyes, see if you recognise the lines and shapes you have drawn. Do your marks resemble what you perceived? Can you recognise the image you have drawn? Take a moment to reflect on your drawing and consider what your subconscious has expressed to you.
The Royal Academy of the Arts
Situated in the heart of London, the Royal Academy is reputed to be the centre of excellence in setting the standard for the Arts internationally. Its current exhibition, Abstract Expressionism, tells the story of the beginnings of this art movement which brought American artists Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko into prominence. The works on display reference the tradition of Abstraction alongside the emotionality of Expressionism, with each piece reflecting how the creative process can be used to convey emotional inquiry against the backdrop of war and political catastrophe. What we see here essentially is how art was used to succour and appease the mortal tendencies of the artists. The form allowed them to use paint and other materials in ways never seen before and for the audience to witness art-making in a new and dynamic light.
This exhibition runs until January 2, 2017