Nigerian artist Alli Hahmmed aka Xeus Imagery has found a home for his latest series of fictional portraits, New Gods, at MakersPlace.
The visual effects specialist’s digital work demonstrates a bold vision for Afro-futurism. In 2016, Hahmmed dove into digital art after realizing it as the perfect way to express his visual preoccupations with mythology, science fiction, and African representation. During the pandemic, Hahmmed committed to creating daily renders and soon broke into NFTs, where he found eager collectors.
MP: Who are the new gods?
XEUS: The New Gods are fictional characters in my universe, personifications of different blockchains. Each character, as we can see, has their respective symbol encrypted on their forehead. In ancient times, different gods were showered with praises through supplication, thoughts, and prayers, but if we look deep into the modern-day system, we pray to these new elements in one way or another.
Just the other day I saw a tweet that said, “Oh lord of ETH locate me.” This is to imply that money is an entity people worship regardless of its form. I created these gods to show the diversification in the monetary system and to create a sense of what the future might look like with these digital currencies on the rise. We might have little to no use for fiat when that time comes
MP: How does ancient mythology play a role in your process?
XEUS: I’ve always liked Greek mythology from childhood. I tend to compare myself to these gods, especially traits that they have. Xeus is Zeus with a twist, and I always like to say I’m as fast as Zeus lightning when creating artworks.
I’m big on mythologies. Their broadness helps me create. Ranging from a variety of cultures, people, and countries, I’m able to pick new gods, mortal characters, and creatures to create new work.
I’ve always wanted to do crossovers like Neil Gaiman. His work inspires me. I believe that most gods from different mythologies are reincarnated across different cultures. I’m creating a universe in which Norse, Greek, Christian, and African Mythology collide and go on amazing adventures.
MP: Do you name your fictional portraits and/or create backstories? Are there narratives in your mind that tie these characters together?
XEUS: I pick characters from mythology, then develop the portrait. Sometimes I name these characters after I’m done. Most of the time I create a backstory that ties one portrait to the other characters. I develop them in my own way or try to give them attributes of what modern or post-apocalyptic characters should look like.
MP: How do sound and music play into your practice? I’ve noticed you credit certain images with musical inspirations, such as Isak Danielson. There’s also “SINGLE TUNES,” which you describe on Instagram as a breakup song, and the seeming companion piece, “EARTH TUNES.”
XEUS: Music is quite important when I’m creating, I don’t think I’d be able to create without music playing in the background. When I’m not creating I’m meditating with these songs from artists like Twenty-One Pilots, Isak Danielson, Labrinth, etc.
On days when I’m feeling creatively blocked, I take lines from songs and try to develop them into portraits or scenes. “DEFENSE MECHANISM MODE” is a line from Twenty-One Pilots’ song called “Morph.” I had this idea to create a character emerging from a body of water; he’s very conscious of his environment and draining elements around him, represented by the hands being sucked under.