Born into a coastal Al Hammadi tribe of Khor Fakkan, Mohammed Al Astad is an artist whose work epitomises the UAE’s maritime heritage. He employs the forces of his surrounding environment to form evocative statements entrenched in memory. He combines these natural forces with core elements seized from the fabric of traditional Emirati society. By re-appropriating these social and cultural elements as objects of aesthetic appreciation, they become both representational forms and evocative statements of heritage. Incorporating the natural environment in his work, allowing it to literally shape his process, results in works which strengthen the relationship between the natural and the human being.
Al Astad was the first Emirati to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design, graduating in 1998 from the American University, Washington DC. During the last 28 years, he has participated in more than 300 group exhibitions and 20 solo shows nationally, regionally and internationally – including the ADMAF international touring exhibition, ‘Three Generations’ (2013–4). He blazed an educational trail with his creativity centre which, for four years, provided courses in a range of techniques in visual art, design and photography, becoming the first space of its kind in Abu Dhabi.
He blazed an educational trail with his creativity centre which, for four years, provided courses in a range of techniques in visual art, design and photography, becoming the first space of its kind in Abu Dhabi.
“I grew up amid the beaches of Khor Fakkan. The idea of the ‘beach tombs’ came to me while fishing one day. It allows me to explore my connection to the coast and gives me an infinite context in which to work. I am free from any restrictions, from any of the conventional art materials. Instead of a brush, I have a shovel; instead of a studio, I have a beach.“