When Circle Art Gallery held its first Khartoum Contemporary exhibition back in 2017, Miska Mohmmed was not just the only woman whose are was in the show. She was also the youngest artist among them.
But she wasn’t too young to make a deep impression on Circle audiences who responded well to her River Nile-inspired art.
Miska’s paintings has been exhibited by Circle Art several times since then, but not only in Nairobi. Circle Art’s founder and director Danda Jamoljmek has taken her work all the way to Lagos and in October she will take it to London for another Art Fair there.
Danda has also included the 26 year old painter in two of the last Art Auctions East Africa.
Currently, Miska is here in Nairobi to attend her first solo exhibition at Circle Art which will run at the gallery until October 8. Speaking to BD Life, she explains how growing up close to the Nile has had a profound impression on her art.
One can easily see it in her luminous paintings which are suffused with luscious colors, hues of deep blues and shadowy blacks as well as grassy spring greens.
She paints like an oceanic alchemist, blending colors into a magical mix that conjure up ‘forgotten places” which emerge out of the depths of Miska’s vivid imagination.
Miska admits her connection with the Nile runs deep.
“When I’m at home, I climb up to my third-floor studio where I can see the Nile from my window. It always inspires me,” she says.
Mainly painting semi-abstract landscapes and seascapes in acrylics on canvas, Miska is meticulous about first sketching out her ideas in watercolor works which are equally elegant and rich in a similar palette.
Describing herself as a landscape artist, Miska says her art is not about specific people or places.
“My art is more about my feelings and the energy that I pick up from the places where I am painting,” says the artist who loves painting in the open air.
Those feelings are best expressed in river scenes where her waters are either swirling or free flowing, choppy or tranquil. She occasionally accentuates the beauty of her water worlds with lotus or daisies, rather reminiscent of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies.
Miska even paints an entire ‘lost city’ underwater with as many byways and highways as one can almost see in her exceptional ‘Crowded Town’. This work is exceptional for several reasons.
For one, it’s her only cityscapes in the show. It’s also the only one where she changes her palette radically with streets painted fire engine red.
The glaring reds seem to register the emotional cacophony that Miska hears in her head, but which inspired her all the same to paint this busy city that also engaged her attention.
A graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2016 from the Sudan University’s College of Fine and Applied Arts, Miska says she was blessed with parents who encouraged her to paint from a very early age.
“They are not artists themselves but they love art and encouraged me to be creative,” she says.
That kind of family support meant that Miska started early to cultivate her artistic talents such that today, her art is already earning her significant figures.
For instance, on the opening day of her exhibition, “The Magic of Forgotten Places” several of her large paintings were sold on the spot.
Among those that sold was Tranquility for USD4,200 and The Lost City for USD2,900. So Kenyan parents need to understand their children can be successful as artists, not just lawyer, accountants, and doctors, when they are encouraged and inspired to express themselves.
Miska says she only knows one other female artist from Sudan. She says Kamala Shug is still alive and painting, and she has inspired Miska to continue advancing with her art.
Miska hopes she can also inspire other young women artists by her example.