Graffiti often invokes images of vandalism and violence. Despite wide popularisation of this art by the likes of Banksy, negative connotations surrounding graffiti still survive but they did not deter Mohammed Ali, a Muslim born and raised in Birmingham.
Mohammed says he was inspired by the 80s New York graffiti movement and whilst studying multimedia graphics at university, he rediscovered his faith and started using his creative ability to connect communities. His work fuses Western street art with Islamic calligraphy to produce a unique blend of both Western and Islamic influences, referred to as Urban Spiritual Art.
“I wanted to take an art form that belonged on the street and connect with ordinary people through the divine meaning contained in the book of Allah (swt). Islam can be slick, stylish and charismatic too. The colours and shapes reflect the energy of the urban Muslim living in the West.”
His work has been on display at galleries and exhibitions ranging from Bradford to Sydney, from Copenhagen to Abu Dhabi, as well as being on display via unique public murals. One such mural in the Bronx neighbourhood of New York commemorated the tragic death of nine children from the Mougasa and Soumare families in a fire. Supported by the Arts Council of England it attracted significant media attention and most importantly supported the families who lost their loved ones.
Mohammed regularly gives seminars and workshops at universities, schools and colleges. His sessions look at the history of Islamic art and graffiti as well as having a practical element. His passion of taking art to the people to make it more accessible lies in the universality of the language of art – indeed, it is a powerful medium which he is utilising to reach the masses.