Mohammad Din Mohammad

Mohammad Din Mohammad (May 24, 1955 – 2007) is a Singaporean Malay painter who is known for his expressive works of art inspired by Sufism Mohammad’s paintings and sculptures are also heavily influenced by his devotion to the practice of the Malay martial arts called silat He was also a practising bomoh, or Malay healer

Mohammad is best remembered for his provocative work, which combines Western ideas with his cultural background His works, especially his sculptures, are deeply rooted in Sufi mysticism, which he practiced throughout his life Through his art, Mohammad seeks to “stitch” together his beliefs, and life philosophies into a common entity – an artwork that is ‘an assembly of separated body and soul’

Born in Kampung Gangsa in Malacca, Malaysia, Mohammad’s family migrated to Singapore when he was two years old As a boy he was interested in art, experimenting in ceramics, making clay cups at the age of five Formal education for Malay youths, meant the study of traditional art forms at the time At the age of 12, Mohammad began to learn silat and traditional massage and herbal healing techniques In 1973, Mohammad went on to study art at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, majoring in western painting, where he took to the Realist portrait painting style After graduating in 1976 he began his life as an artist plying on the old Bugis Street, and drawing portraits for tourists This went on for the next 5 years

In 1980, Mohammad began acting with Malay theaters, with his first role as the character Laertees in a Malay adaptation of Hamlet by the Malay arts group Perkumpulan Seni He also acted in a Singaporean drama serial, Jejak Kembara (The Wanderer) in April 1980

In 1983, a severe motorcycle accident in Pontian nearly cost Mohammad his ankle Though doctors managed to join back the ankle in place gangrene set in soon after the operation Ignoring his doctor’s plea to amputate, Mohammad sought traditional medical help from his silat master Hamin Bujang, and after two years’ of treatment he was able to walk again He became a strong believer in traditional Malay medicine, and went on to study and practice traditional healing techniques

Works:
Spiritual Energy 2004 National Heritage Board, Singapore
‘Spiritual Energy’ is a monochromatic piece, which was presented in an expressionistic manner with a focus in Islamic scripture Mohammad used his fingers and palms, an unorthodox painting method, to create the swift bold strokes and heavy impasto The lines of the script are fluid and bear the impression that they were created with energetic frenzy ‘Spiritual Energy’ is deemed as a poetic painting that speaks about Sufism – the quest for perfection and the search for God’s path

Sacrifice 1994 National Heritage Board, Singapore
‘Sacrifice’ is a painting exemplary of Mohammad’s spiritual enquiry of life through symbols of religiosity The sacrificial lamb or white ram, perhaps inspired from the story of prophet Abraham, with floating daggers and jolting spears, amplified by the spewing of the bright-red blood project a grotesque composite It brings forth nuances to the given title, heightening the level of mysticism and intrigue in order to facilitate discerning minds with layers of meaning

Kaa’ba 1994 National Heritage Board, Singapore
‘Kaa’ba’ as it was aptly title, is a painting depicting almost clearly, the multiple views of the Kaaba and the representation of the Black Stone, a celestial stone that, according to tradition, had fallen from Heaven The Kaaba, a cuboid-shaped building which indicates the spiritual centre of Islam may be regarded as the source for Mohammad’s spiritual energy The green hues which were painted prominently, nevertheless represent the Islamic colour, known to signify the bountiful gardens that dominate Heaven

Burning Desire Four 2000 National Heritage Board, Singapore
‘Burning Desire Four’ forms a significant group of works by Mohammad which explores the formal elements of paintings The forceful and expressionistic brushstrokes of red, yellow, blue and green create a visage which is bold, vibrant and captivating This comes from a series which was painted by Mohammad in the style of abstract expressionism