Glamour: Tell us more about your life as a fine artist. How and when did it all begin?
Nabeeha Mohamed: I studied at the Michaelis School of Fine Art. After I graduated, I took a break for a few years, during which time I did a variety of different jobs, including waitressing, working at our family business and starting a locally produced clothing line, Meso. I started painting again in my spare time around two years ago and began a relationship with SMITH, participating in a few of their group shows. A little over a year ago, we decided it was time for my first solo show, which opened in February 2020.
Glamour: As an artist, what’s your definition of beauty?
NM: I often think of a video I watched at a retrospective of Agnes Martin’s work at the Tate, in which a dealer and friend of hers shares a story. He once visited her apartment with his granddaughter, Isobel, who was mesmerised by a rose in a vase. Agnes noticed this, picked up the rose and asked Isobel, “Is this rose beautiful?” to which Isobel responded, “Yes, the rose is beautiful.” Then, Agnes held the rose behind her back and asked her, “Is the rose still beautiful?” and Isobel replied, “Yes, the rose is still beautiful” to which Agnes then replied, “You see, Isobel, the beauty isn’t in the rose; it’s in your mind.” I think that’s a wonderful way to think of beauty.
“I often take photographs of my frIends and famIly when they’re wearIng fabulous outfIts”
Glamour: Your body of work includes an array of energetic portraits and self-portraits. Which of those mean the most to you and why?
NM: Self Portrait with Almond Eyes (2018) is important to me as it was one of the first self-portraits I created. The genre’s fundamental to my practice. I think it’s humorous but also central to my investigation of what it means to be beautiful as a person of colour in the world today, beyond the ideals of white culture.
Glamour: Some of us know you as the creative director of meso, while others recognise you as a fine artist. What are your thoughts on fluidity between the fashion and art industry in 2020?
NM: I think that while art and fashion each serve specific purposes, the lines that separate them will become increasingly blurred. I’m not sure that we’ve been regarding many fashion designers as artists, except for a few individuals like Rei Kawakubo, Alexander McQueen or Issey Miyake. But you only have to look at the increasing popularisation of the Met Gala, which is the ultimate combination of fashion and art, to see a change already in motion.
Glamour: lots of people say fashion and art go hand in hand. Do you agree?
NM: Fashion inspires a lot of my work because I think it’s a far more accessible art form than fine art. I often take photographs of my friends and family when they’re wearing fabulous outfits, which serve as a starting point for my sketches and paintings. Fashion also interests me as an indicator of wealth and class privilege, a theme that’s central to my practice. My new sculptures reference coveted designer goods, such as sunglasses and shoes. But because they’re made from cement and painted with enamel, the final product is awkward, distorted and tacky – quite the opposite of what designer brands aspire to be.
Glamour: If any artist in the world were to draw, paint or sculpt a portrait of you, who would it be?
NM: This question’s both fantastic and daunting. I’d love to see a Margot Bergman portrait of me.