best of the 2011 biennale – iraqi pavilion wounded water

18 November 2011 § Leave a comment

Back from the 54th Venice biennale, but with only a couple of weeks until it closes on the 27 November it is superfluous to try to write any sort of comprehensive reviews. So – for what it’s worth – in the next few blogs I will attempt to pick out some highlights and places of interest that may have some future relevance.

Amongst the collateral events which take place alongside the official biennale of the Giardini and Arsenale are literally dozens of assorted National, gallery and artist pavilions. House in a variety palaces, attics or semi-derelict houses they are a fascinating addition to the, relatively, big name and big money offerings of the main event. It is very much a hit and miss affair but there are always gems which appear amongst the largely uninspiring exhibits from the likes of Central Asia, Andorra and Iran.

This years outstanding ‘Collateral’ (the biennale’s word, not mine) pavilion was for me the Iraqi Wounded Water (Acqua Ferita) exhibition. Tucked away in a side road behind the Arsenale it occupies a small run-down canal-side property. Six artists have combined to produce a consistently high quality of work. All have drawn strongly upon the recent sad history of the country to produce powerful and meaningful work.

Ahmed Alsoudani is the biggest name. His recent successful exhibition at Haunch of Venison cementing his reputation. Untitled  2011 with a tortured and broken figure above a similarly tortured Arabic motif is the stand-out work here.

Others include Adel Adibin with a clever video of two suited businessman fighting with fluorescent tube light-sabres. Walid Siti rips a hole in a giant copy of an Iraqi banknote to bring to life the featured beauty spot – now tainted. Ali Asaf creates his own version of the Narcissus myth Narciso – he observes not the reflection of himself but detritus of the city as it drifts beneath his gaze.

Azid Nanakeli and Halim al Karim also feature. All deserve a bright and successful future after this excellent collaboration.

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

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with ahmed alsoudani at a kick up the arts.

%d bloggers like this: