“My name is Mahir Siraj (he/him). I am a first-year Drawing & Painting student. Originally, I am from Eritrea, but I have lived in few other East African countries long enough to say I am from the Eastern part of Africa. I have been living in Canada specifically in Toronto since early 2018. My main field of interest in art is drawing and painting, but I also partake in photography and filmmaking. I have been actively making works for more than 12 years and had the opportunity to show my works in several places in my home country Eritrea and Sudan.
The work I do investigates the nature of perception, the relationship between time and space, and the phenomenon of consciousness in the context of Identity. Although my primary medium of choice is painting, I would like to experiment more with digital mediums, film, and three-dimensional objects and space in the future.
During the past two years, COVID-19 has impacted pretty much the whole world. As a result, I have observed a change in my work process both conceptually and technically. Being confined in one place for a longer period has played a role in my overall process both negatively and positively. Positively, the confinement has forced me to delve deeper into my thought process and investigate various issues which I haven’t been paying attention to, and negatively I can say the suffering that has manifested in the world because of the pandemic has shown me how frail humanity is. In the post-COVID-19 world, I see myself working on themes and concepts I have developed during the pandemic period to further broaden my overall artistic process.”
The work I do investigates the nature of perception, the relationship between time and space, and the phenomenon of consciousness in the context of Identity. I often take reference from my exposure to various political, social, and cultural issues because of having lived in few East-African countries. In my process of investigating the concept of Identity, my work engages with subjects that range from familiar visual elements to conceptual abstract forms. Often, I play with contrasting use of colour and composition to create visual stimulation and engagement. Although I rely on researching and planning before I begin to work, I often leave some room for the unexpected to take place during the creating process.