Mohamed Dalo: the crippled anime artist

It could be luck or just pure circumstance why a 21-year-old Palestinian was able to open an art exhibition in Gaza.

“You draw whatever your imagination leads you to without adhering to any specific shaping or the general appearance of the drawing. I only have my A4 drawing pad and pencils that enable me to live out my dream,” Mohamed Dalo was quoted saying in a report. He has muscular dystrophy.

Muscular dystrophy is a nutritional deficiency disease. It commonly occurs in boys during childhood and could result in an inability to walk or difficulty in breathing or swallowing. Only medications and therapy can “cure” muscular dystrophy by managing its symptoms and slowing its course.

But Mohamed Dalo was still able to “mix with people of various abilities.” “Since I was a toddler, art was a hobby that grew into a passion which knew no boundaries,” Mohamed had added.

A “daily life is a struggle for survival and progression,” however. Before Mohamed had the chance to complete his baccalaureate exams, his health and condition deteriorated to the extent that he could no longer endure a “long and tiring school day.” He left school and solely embark on a journey toward his dream.

Alone, Mohamed got inspired by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Frida Kahlo, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Al Capp, Picasso, Da Vinci, and Japanese anime artists Naoki Tate and Masashi Kishimoto. He eventually got more fascinated with anime—a style of animation developed in Japan—because, unlike other forms of art, Mohamed found anime to be without boundaries.

Gradually, Mohamed began showing his work to others; initially on social media then to friends and family. During an art exhibition at two local events in Gaza, including the “Renewing Contribution” festival at Gaza College, Mohamed’s works were displayed.

Soon afterwards, Mohamed attracted media attention. Palestinian, Iraqi and Jordanian newspapers and TV channels all vied to interview him. The only struggle he had left is not his physical disability but his living in Gaza.

“Living in Gaza is a real challenge for any individual but if you are disabled then it is an entirely different matter; the siege which limits the everyday life of every Palestinian in the Strip, also means those with disabilities are unable to get access to, or learn about, opportunities and facilities that are available for people with special needs.”

Mohamed remains hopeful, though: “I want to leave a mark in the world of art, travel and see what is out there in terms of art, especially anime, open my own exhibition where people from all over the globe can come and view my work and improve my skills through interacting and meeting artists and academics who may help me nurture this talent through further studies.”

Mohamed had his first solo exhibition in Gaza last year entitled “Anime is my Life” at the Arts and Crafts Village.

“Don’t hide or suppress your talent. Nothing is impossible. Be proud of who you are and what you contribute to society. People with disability have a vital role to play in shaping the world and influencing the attitude and perception others have of disability.” ~Mohamed Dalo

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