Mohamed Kanoo started painting informally in the late 1980s. Inspired by artists, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, the artist’s first notable work, executed in the Pop art style, was a portrait of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late President and Founder of the United Arab Emirates.
Kanoo's artistic practice has developed over the years, experimenting with other media, his works can be divided into several categories: portraits, automobiles, abstract, applied media, landscape, photography and calligraphic art. 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 reflecting a more positive, alternative view of contemporary Arabia.
He first exhibited his work in Cosmos: A Written Word; Arabic Calligraphy Through the Ages exhibition at the Richard Meier designed Museum for Applied Arts in Frankfurt, Germany, 2004. 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) was featured at the Shubbak festival, 2011, London’s first ever celebration of contemporary culture from across the Arab world. His most recent exhibitions include Korean Eye: Energy and Matter, a joint show held in Abu Dhabi, 2012.
Kanoo is one of the founders of Abu Dhabi’s first art gallery, the Ghaf Art Gallery (established in 2006). 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, in which he addressed the subject of opportunities and dangers of globalised art.