Born 1963, Manama, Bahrain
Mohamed Kanoo commenced painting informally in Abu Dhabi in 1989. Using self-taught modern techniques of Roy Lichtenstein, Kanoo paints in the contemporary Pop art style of Andy Warhol. His first work, executed in this style, was a portrait of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late President and Founder of the United Arab Emirates, an ever present spiritual inspiration to his work.
Kanoo's works have developed over the years and he has recently started experimenting with other media for his more abstract contemporary pieces. He currently has several categories within which his works can be divided: portraits, automobiles, abstract, applied media, landscape, photography and calligraphy art.
He first exhibited his work in 2004 as part of the Cosmos: A Written Word; Arabic Calligraphy Through the Ages exhibition at the Richard Meier designed Museum for Applied Arts in Frankfurt, Germany. Further exhibitions include Debut in Dubai in 2005; an exhibition of his Sehmaghart concept at Galeria Metropolitana, Barcelona, 2007; Language of the Desert: Contemporary Gulf Arab Artist Exhibition, Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation, 2007; and his solo show 3 Icons, Abu Dhabi, 2007. An earlier version of Mohamed’s work Henna Stop Sign (exhibited in Fun w/Fen) featured at Sotheby’s during Shubbak (July 2011), London’s first ever celebration of contemporary culture from across the Arab world. His more recent exhibitions include Korean Eye: Energy and Matter, a joint show held in Abu Dhabi (March–April).
Mohamed is one of the founders of Abu Dhabi’s first art gallery, the Ghaf Art Gallery (established in 2006), where he has curated many exhibitions. He has given lectures on art and culture internationally and has contributed a paper for ‘Global Art’, published by Hatje Cantz in 2009, edited by Irene Gludowacz, Silvia von Bennigsen and Susanne van Hagen, where he looked at the opportunities and dangers of globalized art.
His artistic philosophy is often termed as ‘being in transition’, an unintentional description of his efforts that he holds very close to his heart. He feels an artist must be continually changing, improving, growing, expanding and should never be caught in a repetitive rut.
He has also been challenged by perceived artistic prohibitions of his Islamic faith. Following the tragedy of 9/11, and the resultant negative cultural confrontation by the West, he has focused on achieving a successful artistic platform that presents a position from which he can reflect more positively an alternative view of contemporary Arabia.