Wednesday, March 13, 2019

01 Paintings, MODERN & CONTEMPORARY MIDDLE EASTERN ART, With Footnotes - 2j

Suad Al-Attar (Iraqi, born 1942)
Tears of the soul, c. 2002
Oil on canvas
70 x 84 cm. (27.6 x 33.1 in.)
Private collection

Suad al-Attar (born 1942) is a renowned Iraqi painter whose work is in private and public collections worldwide, including The British Museum and the Gulbenkian Collection. She has held over twenty solo exhibitions, including one in Baghdad that became the first solo exhibition in the country's history for a woman artist. Her many awards include the first prize at the International Biennale in Cairo in 1984 and an award of distinction at the Biennale held in Malta in 1995.

Suad left Baghdad with her husband and children in 1976, and settled in London. For her, the perpetual sense of longing for "home" has always been balanced by an awareness of the freedom that comes with distance. This freedom—a condition that gained added significance following the regime’s rise to power under Saddam Hussein in the late 1970s—has enabled her to explore her relationship with her homeland and to develop a personal visual language with which to express it.


Elements of this language are to be found within the traditions of Middle Eastern art. The winged creatures of Assyrian reliefs, Sumerian sculptures and the illuminated manuscripts of the Baghdadi School were instrumental. However, this awareness of her Arab heritage did not result in slavish imitation, but was forged with her own romantic imagination and an appreciation of western figurative traditions to create enigmatic images in which narrative and symbolism are intertwined.


A substantial monograph documenting her career was published in London in 2004. Much of Suad’s painting is characterised by an intense dreamlike and poetic sensibility that draws on motifs and symbols from within the traditions of Middle Eastern art. In recent years, these richly-coloured representations of paradise and of sleeping cities bathed in turquoise blue, have disappeared from her work as she has become increasingly preoccupied with the plight of Iraq. More on Suad al-Attar




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