NEW YORK— Ayad Alkadhi‘s canvases are strikingly beautiful abstract works with distinct realistic moments. There are a series of purple gasoline hoses raining down across the bottom “Sleeping Beauties,” for instance. While bright and colorful, the artist’s work addresses serious social and political matters.
In “Umbilical” at Leila Heller Gallery, Alkadhi’s recent paintings reflect on his experiences in Iraq living under Saddam Hussein’s reign, the American occupation, war casualties, immigration and assimilation, and the recent Arab Spring democracy movements.
The works were created using a three-step process. Alkadhi begins by pasting yellowed Arabic newspapers to a canvas. Next, he sketches in black the images and metaphors that reflect his subject. Finally, he embellishes the paintings with bursts of color. According to the gallery, “The layering of such personal and historical content is reflected in the artist’s approach and mark making, where strata upon strata of content gets buried beneath successive layers.”
Born and raised in Baghdad, Alkadhi lives and works in New York. “Umbilical,” his first solo show in New York, is on view from Feb. 2 to Feb. 25, 2012.
All photos by Arts Observer
Above, Detail of “Spring,” 2011-2012 (charcoal, acrylic, pen and pencil on Arabic newspaper on canvas); Top of page, “Spring,” which measures 216 inches in length.
From left, “Venus-Iraq” and “Sleeping Beauties” (both 2011-2012, charcoal, acrylic, pen and pencil on Arabic newspaper on canvas).
Detail of “Sleeping Beauties,” 2011-2012.
From left, “The Thinker”; “One World”; “I Used to be King” (all three 2011-2012, charcoal, acrylic, pen and pencil on Arabic newspaper on canvas).