01 Paintings, MIDDLE EASTERN ART, With Footnotes - 15

Jamil Hamoudi,  (1924–2003) 
Untitled, c. 1959
Acrylic on board, framed
65 x 54cm (25 9/16 x 21 1/4in)
Private collection

"Calligraphy for the Arab artist was for centuries a major outlet of creativity: he employed it inventively and in endless modulations to express a powerful aesthetic impulse often associated with 'spiritual' feelings, largely because most of the phrases thus written were of a religious nature.

The words were sufficient unto themselves as 'content', the beauty of their meaning being reflected in the beauty of their configuration. With the advent of the one-dimensionist
trend in the sixties, calligraphy for the painter had acquired a freedom of form and significance which the old calligraphers would not consider relevant to their sacred. conventional art." Jabra Ibrahim Jabra. 

Jamil Hamoudi (1924–2003) was an Iraqi artist who became the Director of the Ministry of Culture's Fine Arts Department. He is noted for his involvement in various Iraqi and Arabic art movements including the Hurufiyya movement which bridged the gap between traditional and modern Iraqi art.

Hamoudi started out as a self-taught sculptor in Baghdad. He developed a naturalistic style. In 1944, he was taken on to teach drawing and art history at a school in Baghdad. At the same time he attended classes at the Baghdad College of Fine Arts. He graduated in 1945 and in 1947, took a government scholarship to go to Paris, to study at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Académie Julian, and École du Louvre. He also Hamoudi researched the Assyrian-Babylonian art and languages.

In 1943, he created what has been described as the first Iraqi sculpture; a figure of the 11th-century philosopher-poet, Al-Maʿarri. By 1947, he was experimenting with abstract paintings using Arabic characters, and as such was one of the early pioneers of hurufiyya art. This led him on a path to discover the graphic possibilities of the letter in art.

Certain art historians regard him as the "founding father" of the hurufiyya movemen.  He defined his use of Arabic script in the context of rediscovering his own heritage, amid his studies of European art. He wanted to cling onto his own values and traditions as a means of avoiding being overtaken by experiences outside his own heritage. He wrote that there was nothing more sacred that the Arabic alphabet, saying that his art was "a form of prayer."

In 1973 he was appointed as Director of Fine Arts at the Ministry of Culture. More on Jamil Hamoudi

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