Nabeeha Mohamed studied at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town and graduated, with a specialisation in painting, in 2011. The subjects of Mohamed’s whimsical paintings are all derived from her everyday life – vases of flowers in her parent’s home, her partner’s ashtray and cigarettes, portraits of both herself and her friends – but combined with her saturated and often jarring use of colour these subjects become somewhat strange and other-worldly.
Having grown up as one of very few women of colour in a predominantly white all-girls school in post-Apartheid South Africa, there is a sense of searching in Mohamed’s paintings – a searching and placing of her identity that, according to Mohamed, was hushed in her childhood in an attempt to assimilate to white culture and society. She now celebrates these aspects of her identity in her paintings – colour, boldness and strangeness take centre stage. But with a closer look there is often a hint of melancholy or menace – flowers are wilting, objects cast ominous blue shadows and animals are shown bearing their teeth. Her self-portraits in which she replaces her eyes with almonds are a critique of the fetishizing of women of colour by using food related analogies to describe their features. Mohamed’s work has been included in multiple group exhibtions globally in Rotterdam, Cape Town, Riebeeck Kasteel and Venice.