Briefly describe the work you do.
I mainly paint on big size canvases using acrylic and charcoal. In my paintings, I usually collect all kind of forms and arrange them in psychologically familiar shapes, adding a unique background. I am always looking for the perpetual movement that lies behind fixed scenes. Because of this, I also work on animation in video art and on illustration.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I was born and lived in Saudi Arabia until I was 18. The quietness, the loneliness, the stillness and the greatness of the space, especially the desert, opened a new dimension within my imagination. Moving to Aleppo for my studies in Fine Arts was a whole different experience: There I met many artists and professors with whom I used to work. It was an intense period of time, during which many artistic thoughts and projects were shared amongst passionate people. Now, as art became my identity and that all aspects of my life are deeply connected to it, everything around me has an influence on the work I do.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
Since I started painting, I have managed to create a work space in the places I have lived, and it has always been in the living room. My studio is also the area where I welcome friends, play music, organize dinners and jam sessions,… I don’t dissociate my work from my life much and this multipurpose space aims on influencing each other on a human and artistic level.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I am currently not playing any other roles other than being a full time artist.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I don’t have any fixed time for working. However, I try to do it everyday. Sometimes I enjoy waking up very early in the morning in order to work along with the sunrise, and other times I can stay up until very late: It really depends on my mood and on my inspiration.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
There has been a big difference. Before, when I was a student, I would experiment different artistic movements and techniques in order to find myself. But art cannot be limited to these ideas, and now, after a few years, I can say that I reached some kind of artistic identity to which I feel close. I know what I do and why I do it.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
Philosophers, artists and my family have an influence on the work I do. But if I knew exactly from where my inspiration came from, I would keep it with me all the time and would not stop making art! However, this thing is moving around me quickly and I try to catch it as often as possible.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I recall always wanting to be an artist. However, if I hadn’t been an artist, I would probably be a craftsman or a joiner. Other than that, I enjoy playing some music, singing, cooking pasta with yoghourt and garlic, keeping my cat Shayboob company and fixing things in my flat/studio.
Mohammad Zaza, Syrian artist, was born in Riyadh in 1987. Growing up in an artistic family, he started drawing and painting at an early age. After completing high school in Saudi Arabia, he moved to Syria in 2006 to study at the faculty of Fine Arts in Aleppo University. He held his first solo exhibition in 2008 and, after his graduation in 2010, was appointed as a painting teacher assistant at the University until 2012. Besides painting on big size canvases mainly, he also works on illustrations and animations.
In his artworks, Mohammad Zaza focuses on the movement that lies behind fixed scenes, enhancing the subject in order to open new scopes of reality. Because his paintings aspire to work as a window to another dimension of life, his shapes emphasize the unity of the source of thoughts, allowing the viewer to apprehend with him the Origins.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.