Mohammed Z. Rahman dreams up a magical future with his “carnivalesque and grave" paintings
With wide-angle paintings and equal parts earthy and bright palette, the London-based artist’s work speaks to a “culture of unrest”.
- Yaya Azariah Clarke
- 22 August 2023
Mohammed Z. Rahman's paintings strike the perfect balance between scenes that are both busy and quieting. Inspired by Paula Rego, Emory Douglas and Salman Toor, his characters are always sharing a common space but are not necessarily interacting with each other – like two children engaging in parallel play or friends that share a comfortable moment of silence. A self-taught painter informed by their background in anthropology, his work weaves together folk histories of migration, labour, queerness, family and class, which he represents in his wide angle-esque paintings where the ceiling, floor and walls are on show adorned with ephemera, tools and furniture that gives us a real sense of the everyday.
Being a British-Bengali artist based in London, his experiences have informed the desire to speak to a “culture of unrest”, in his work. “I like to paint in a language of surrealism and social realism as a way of dealing with the current conditions we live in while also creating a new world,” he tells us. Incorporating both danger and fun through a “carnivalesque and grave palette”, a deep look will always have you wondering about the journeys of the families and communities seen getting on with their daily lives.
You can see Mohammed's work on display at Phillida Reid Gallery as a part of the Group Portrait exhibition, on until 23rd September.
Mohammed Z. Rahman: Cellar (Copyright © Mohammed Z. Rahman 2022, courtesy of the artist and Phillida Reid)
About the Author
Yaya (they/them) joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in June 2023 and became a staff writer in November of the same year. With a particular interest in Black visual culture, they have previously written for publications such as WePresent, alongside work as a researcher and facilitator for Barbican and Dulwich Picture Gallery.