Beachroad Magazine meets Dubai-born artist Fathima Mohiuddin. Spending the last 10 years living and working between Toronto, London and Dubai. Fathima has a BA in Art & Culture from the University of Toronto and an MA in Sociology from Goldsmiths, University of London, Fathima's artwork deals with notions of subjectivity, identity, the subconscious, belonging and the standardisations of society. She also explores through her curatorial and creative work the role of the artist in society, and the relationship between the artist and their creations. Her distinguishable style of mark-making has lent itself to large-scale drawing, painting, mural work, raffiti, installation, photography, stop-motion animation, body art, live art and many collaborations.
FATHIMA ANSWERS THE BEACHROAD MAGAZINE Q&A //
NAME? // FATS (Fathima Mohiuddin)
YOUR FIRST JOB? // My first real job was as an apprentice mentor artist over a summer in Toronto for a company called Mural Routes.
YOUR CURRENT OCCUPATION // I split my time between my own artwork under the name Fats and then more commercial work that involves working with other artists and corporates under a company I started 5 years ago called The Domino.
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE ART SCENE IN DUBAI AND WHICH ARTISTS EXCITE YOU? // It's been amazing to watch it appear and grow. I've lived here most of my life and to be honest didn't think we would see this much activity here so fast. At the same time I'm concerned sometimes about substance. It's amazing that we can make money as artists here. It's amazing that money is being invested in public art and galleries. However these things need to happen with the right intentions and purpose behind them. For instance public and street art aren't justabout adornment and marketing a brand or a developer. They're about creating places in a city, about building and reflecting communities of people, about injecting humanity into public space and creating narratives and I worry that with Dubai being so commercially driven, these things sadly get lost. With my own career I have very consciously separated commercial from personal and personal is about staying true to a certain amount of integrity. Even with The Domino, there's some principles I keep intact to make sure we are not purely commodifying art because art's purpose in history, culture, society is more than just aesthetic and commodity. The integrity and heart is important. It's not just about the show. Artists who excite me here: I am a big fan of illustration. Artists like Luis Vasquez and German Fernandez are all amazing and mad talented.
WHEN DID YOU REALISE THE ART WORLD WAS FOR YOU? // I'm not sure the 'art world' is for me actually. My early days, I worked in a gallery in Toronto and then here in Dubai but I've also moved away from the gallery to a more social and community-oriented approach to art. They have their place and as I make more studio work I'm realizing that. I'm happiest when art is out in the open and accessible though.
YOUR GREATEST LOVE? // My mum. I've moved around a fair bit, people come and go, my life has gone through a lot of changes but she is my constant.
YOUR GREATEST FEAR? // Not sure! Haven't encountered it yet! I'm terrified of geckos but I think I could (wo)man up about that if I had to!
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY? // I was born and raised in Dubai and the memories of a quaint and simpler Dubai where you could park up on the side of beach road and run down to the sea I think is one of my favourites. Dubai was like a small town and you didn't need much to be happy. I'm not sure if it's my earliest memory but one of my fondest for sure.
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY? // My grandparents. They were both social workers. My grandfather was a doctor with the WHO and my grandmother was a sociologist and sex counsellor. They both exuded humanity and strong values. I got a lot of my balance and social awareness from them. They worked hard to have a full and meaningful life that in some way positively impacted people's lives.
YOUR FAVOURITE ARTIST? // Always changing. But I'm pretty obsessed with Roa.
YOUR FAVOURITE GALLERY? // I haven't got one.
IF YOU OWNED A GALLERY WHAT WOULD YOU CALL IT? // The Domino.
IF YOU WERE NOT AN ARTIST WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING? // As a child I wanted to be a cab driver when I grew up. I still think that's something I could do!
IF YOU WERE ONLY ALLOWED TWO COLOURS TOO WORK WITH FOR THE REST OF TIME WHAT WOULD THEY BE? // Black and white (arguably not colours but..)
WHAT ART DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH? // Probably abstract expressionism/ automatic drawing. As much as I've realised being deliberate can up the quality of our work, I love the freedom of free-styling and accessing something that's pure and from your subconscious.
WHAT PIECE OF WORK HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE? // They're all challenging in their own way. Sometimes it's technical ie. a brick wall with really rough surfaces and grooves, or a wall that's so fragile it crumbles when you touch it. Sometimes it's the scale. Sometimes it's the idea . I struggle most with work on canvas because it takes time and I don't like to spend a lot of time on a piece. I like it to be as here and now as possible and when you've got to work on something for weeks or months, I tend to lose interest, paint over it and start again.
ANY ARTWORK YOU HAVE BEEN RELUCTANT TO SELL? // I'm terrible at selling work! My home / studio is absolutely overflowing with it. If it's stuff I've painted for myself I end up giving it away but for some reason can't sell it. In that regard I much prefer commissions that are done for someone with that someone in mind when you start.
ART ASIDE, WHAT INSPIRES YOU? // Society. The way people interact. Dynamics. Stories. Everyday narratives. Truth.
WHERE IS YOUR DREAM STUDIO LOCATION? // An airplane hanger!
WHO IS YOUR GREATEST FASHION INFLUENCE? // I don't have one.
IF YOU COULD OWN ANY ARTWORK WHAT WOULD IT BE? // Jackson Pollock was my first artist love when I was 14. Probably anything by him especially the big ones.
IF YOU COULD SPEND A DAY WITH ANY ARTIST ALIVE OR DEAD WHO WOULD IT BE? // Probably Roa at the moment. I'm still learning how to scale up with work and i relate to the heavy black lines a lot so I think I could probably learn a lot from the experience.
YOU CAN SPEND A DAY WITH ONE OF THE FOLLOWING, BASQUIAT, HOCKNEY, HIRST, WARHOL, BACON, BANKSY OR HARING WHO WOULD IT BE? // Warhol in the Factory.
WHAT IS THE LAST GIFT YOU GAVE SOMEONE? // A Haida Wolf carving from Canada for my friend Morgan.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE CHILDREN? // Probably to enjoy being different. Difference is a powerful gift if you embrace it.
YOUR WORST TRAIT? // Anxiety. Is that a trait?
THE WORST TRAIT IN OTHERS THAT GETS YOU MAD? // Bullying.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE? // No idea!
FAVOURITE MUSIC // anything acoustic. Really into Fink.
LAST RECORD / DOWNLOAD YOU BOUGHT? // Finally recently bought Pulp Fiction on vinyl!
FAVOURITE BOOK? // I love most books by Desmond Morris.
LAST BOOK YOU BOUGHT? // Fish Bowl (What the Goldfish saw as he fell from the 27th floor) by Bradley Somer.
THE CLOSEST YOU HAVE COME TO DEATH? // I've never really come that close to dying, touch wood!
FAVOURITE TRAVEL DESTINATION? // Goa.
LEAST FAVOURITE TRAVEL DESTINATION? // Anywhere I feel too socially restricted in what I can do I guess.
HOW DO YOU RELAX? // Watch a movie in the bath.
BEACH OR DESERT? // Definitely beach.
URBAN OR RURAL? // Both.
CATS OR DOGS? // Both.
COFFEE OR TEA? // Tea. I'm allergic to coffee.
WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH? // My best friends. Never laugh as freely as I do with them. (shout to the homies : )
WHATS MAKES YOU CRY? // Really meaningful, heartfelt, honest stuff.
YOUR MESSAGE // Don't forget your heart.