MOGADISHU, Somalia (Reuters) – A collection of yawing mouths and extracted teeth, booming stereo speakers and colorful hookah pipes adorn shop fronts in Somalia, a colorful contrast to the airbrushed artworks of big business.
Somali mural artist Muawiye Hussein Sidow, also known as “Shik Shik”, is the man responsible for the art that features on more than 100 shops, including barbers, tea shops and supermarkets across Mogadishu.
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Sidow’s work has a hand-drawn simplicity, usually involving bright, eye-catching colors. Some pieces stretch over several meters.
Sidow’s father was a commercial artist, who passed his knowledge and skills on to his son.
Sidow, 31, took on his father’s business in 1998 and his painting supports not only his own family, but helps sustain his dad as well as many others.
“I make the pictures to get daily food for my wife and three kids,” he told Reuters.
“I also give daily food to (my) retired old father. Now I have become an art teacher there are many artists whom I taught how to make pictures, and they also get their daily food.”
Sidow said he never duplicated murals and that inspiration came from Somali daily life.
Aside from feeding his family and brightening up the urban landscape, Sidow still has ambitions to do more with his art.
“God willing, I hope I will also make pictures in the neighboring countries.”
Reporting by Feisal Omar; Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London; Editing by Jane Merriman