ahmed alsoudani at the haunch of venison

21 October 2011 § 1 Comment

You have too give credit to Charles Saatchi. Three years ago the gallery snapped up half a dozen works by the New York based Iraqi painter, Ahmed Alsoudani, no doubt for peanuts. At the time an up and coming middle eastern artist ranked (if you take any notice of such things) by Artfacts way down below 30,000 in their scheme for world artists, he is now, after a near vertical climb, already rated under the 10,000 mark. Since appearing at auction last  year his works have exceeded £200,000 each whilst last week at Sothebys Baghdad I  – actually from the Saatchi collection – sold for an amazing £713,000 against an estimate of £250-350,000.

His first UK exhibition has just opened at the Haunch of Venison and you can bet that it has already been sold out. The works, mostly medium to large-scale, are certainly striking. Starting from energetic charcoal drawings, which often remain in unpainted areas, his figurative works feature distorted and intertwined bodies or body parts, in a more or less tangled mass together with assorted, barely identifiable objects like clothing, foam, tubes and pieces of concrete. Flashes of vivid, bright colour combine with more painterly sections and charcoal drawing.

The paintings naturally relate to his, and his compatriots, experience of conflict in his homeland. Without expressly depicting war they however clearly reflect the effect and experience of war upon the people who live under its shadow. Pain and suffering is clearly visible via the tortured and broken bodies. The wide spaces of the fine new Haunch of Venison Gallery allows a calm and reflective viewing. These are hugely impressive and very powerful paintings in a striking setting.

Haunch of Venison until 26 November 2011

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