Sadik Kwaish Alfraji Driven by Storms
adik Kwaish Alfraji
Driven by Storms (The Notebooks)
Curated by Nat Muller
13 November 2015 – 9 January 2016
Ayyam Gallery Beirut
Opening reception: Friday, 13 November from 7.00 to 9.00 pm
Ayyam Gallery Beirut is pleased to announce Driven by Storms (The Notebooks), a solo show of leading Iraqi artist Sadik Kwaish Alfraji. Excerpted from Alfraji’s critically acclaimed large-scale exhibition earlier this year at Ayyam Gallery Dubai, curated by Nat Muller, the body of work describes an exchange between the artist and his nephew Ali, who expressed his longing to escape war-torn Baghdad in a handwritten letter. After receiving the child’s message, Alfraji was haunted by the image of a small boat that Ali included to illustrate his dream of floating away from the devastation of Iraq after the 2003 American-led invasion to the safety of the Netherlands where the artist is based.
Weaving together a narrative of displacement with the imaginings of his nephew, Alfraji details his own visions of exile as marked by the recurring dream of returning to the Baghdad of his childhood while depicting the fantasy world of a boy who seeks to leave behind the calamity of war.
At the centre of the exhibition in Beirut are the artist’s notebooks, a series of evocative drawings set in black Indian ink that detail in childlike and naive style, Ali’s adventures filled with dark fairytales and wishful, but perilous, journeys. Another main element is the video animation composed of an evolving black and white drawing that depicts the story of life in Iraq and its subsequent displacement as a visualised stream of consciousness. Layered with symbolist imagery, the animation unfolds around a portrait in profile that seems to absorb the catastrophic changes (or storms) of the surrounding environment. At a time when much of the Middle East is embroiled in a dynamic of violence, flight and migration, Alfraji’s deeply personal project offers hope in dark times.
About the Artist
Multimedia artist Sadik Kwaish Alfraji explores what he describes as ‘the problem of existence’ through drawings, paintings, video animations, art books, graphic art, and installations. The shadowy protagonist who occupies Alfraji’s interdisciplinary works represents a black void, a filter that allows him to explore the intricacies of navigating the precarious nature of modern existence. By rendering his solitary figure as a charcoal- coloured silhouette and minimising the formal properties of his compositions, Alfraji captures the expressed movement and subtle inflections of the body in psychologically laden environments. The artist often records his own narrative in black and white depictions of his recurring character, particularly the loss, fragmentation, and lapses in time that underline the experience of exile.
Born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1960, Sadik Kwaish Alfraji lives and works in Amersfoort, The Netherlands. He received a Bachelor of Fine Art in Painting and Plastic Art from the Academy of Fine Arts, Baghdad in 1987 and a High Diploma in Graphic Design from CHK Constantijn Huygens, Netherlands in 2000.
The artist’s recent solo shows include Ayyam Gallery Al Quoz, Dubai (2015); Beirut Exhibition Center (2014); Ayyam Gallery London (2015, 2013); Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai (2011); Ayyam Gallery Damascus (2011); Stads Gallery, Amersfoort, Netherlands (2010); Station Museum, Houston (2008); Stedelijk Museum, Den Bosch (2007). Selected group exhibitions include P21 Gallery, London (2015); the British Museum, London (2015); 56th Venice Biennale, Italy (2015); Abu Dhabi Festival, Abu Dhabi (2015); Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah (2015); LACMA, Los Angeles (2015); FotoFest Biennial, Houston (2014); Samsung Blue Square and Busan Museum of Art, South Korea (2014); Ikono On Air Festival, online and broadcasted (2013); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012); Institut du Monde Arabe (2012); Centro Cultural General San Martin, Buenos Aires (2012); Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Algiers (2011); and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Qatar (2010).
Alfraji’s works are housed in numerous private and public collections including the British Museum, London; National Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad; The Art Center, Baghdad; National Gallery of Fine Arts Amman; Shoman Foundation, Amman; Royal Association of Fine Arts, Amman; Novosibirsk State Art Museum, Russia; and the Cluj- Napoca Art Museum, Romania; Los Angeles Country Museum; and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
About Ayyam Gallery
Founded in 2006, Ayyam Gallery is a leading arts organisation that manages the careers of diverse established and emerging artists from the Middle East. Blue-chip art spaces in Beirut and Dubai, a series of collaborative projects in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and a multinational non-profit arts programme have furthered the gallery’s mandate of expanding the parameters of international art by introducing the dynamic art of the region to a global audience. With its widely respected multilingual publishing division and a custodianship programme that manages the estates of pioneering artists, Ayyam Gallery has also spearheaded recent efforts to document the region’s art history.
Exhibition Dates: 13 November 2015 – 9 January 2016
Opening Reception: Friday, 13 November from 7.00 to 9.00 pm
Location: Beirut Tower, Ground Floor, Zeitoune Street, Across from Beirut Marina