Mohammed Awudu, who is 33 years old, is considered the most famous resident of Nima, a neighborhood located in the Greater Accra Region, in Ghana. Moh, as he is known there, uses graffiti to place colors in locations that previously were gray. His art gained notoriety around the world by portraying, through a painting, one of the worst natural disasters of Ghana. It was in 2015. A flood and fire killed dozens of people in Accra. The paintings attracted attention due to their realism, sensitivity, and colorfulness.
Nowadays, Moh Awudu speaks with street artists around the world and is working to revitalize dilapidated areas around the Ghanaian capital city. An invitation emerged from those conversations to participate at the International Graffiti Biennial in 2018 that takes place in São Paulo and reunites around 80 international artists.
He speaks about how that experience went to ATLANTICO and where his inspiration comes from for painting and what he is planning to do in the future.
ATLANTICO – Tell me about your experience in Brazil. First of all, how did that invitation emerge?
Moh Awudu – The experience was great. In 2012, I worked with the Brazilian Embassy in Ghana on an art project on the Tabom people. There I met Binho and Alexandre Keto. We became good friends and I have always learned so much from them. Then the invitation emerged to participate at the International Graffiti Biennial.
ATLANTICO – Graffiti is very typical in São Paulo. What did you think about that? Did you like what you saw there?
Moh Awudu – Yes, São Paulo is a city that was always part of my dreams. I think that Accra can also use graffiti as a means for promoting culture and history. I felt at home in São Paulo because there are many artists and also because the residents in the city generally appreciate street art.
ATLANTICO – Your art is colorful and full of “humanity”. Where does that inspiration come from?
Moh Awudu – My art represents my inner spirits from where I grew up in Nima, Accra, and it portrays everyday life. I try to show African women so that they become more influential in society. I can make the world a better place by making it possible for them to be heard. I am also inspired to do positive things to inspire the next generations of children who seek me and then I try to contribute to developing the world by means of art. If we want to change society, we have to accept responsibility in our small corners.
I try to show African women so that they become more influential in society. I can make the world a better place by making it possible for them to be heard.
ATLANTICO – What are the challenges of being an artist in Ghana? Do you speak with your Brazilian friends about governmental support?
Moh Awudu – For me, the only challenge is the government does not provide support to artists when we carry out projects. They also do not fund travel expenses for artists who represent Ghana at international events. I have already spoken to my Brazilian friends about this and their reality is completely different. There is support from the Brazilian government, providing space for graffiti, although they need increased support for future events.
ATLANTICO – Do you intend to return to Brazil? Have you got in touch with Brazilian artists and do you intend to do some partnering with them?
Moh Awudu – Yes, I want to return to Brazil one of these days. São Paulo is the world capital of street art. I made a lot of contacts and have great connections there and I have plans to collaborate with some Brazilian artists, whether here in Ghana, or even there in Brazil.
ATLANTICO – What are your next projects?
Moh Awudu – I wish to hold an exhibition here in Ghana, continue with my street art project named “Reimagine Nima” beautifying the walls of Acra, and participate in other international art festivals.