Meem Gallery is pleased to present the fourth part of five exhibitions displaying contemporary Iraqi art this spring. Curated by Dia Al-Azzawi, Art in Iraq Today: Part IV will exhibit the recent work of Dia Al-Azzawi, Rafa Al-Nasiri (both founders of the New Vision Group in 1969) and Ali Talib. The exhibition, and its supporting catalogue, is dedicated to the memory of Jabra Ibrahim Jabra and his seminal essays on modern Iraqi art, titled ‘Art in Iraq Today.’
Part V (25 April – 31 May 2011), will exhibit the work of Ali Jabbar, Halim Al-Kareem and Mahmoud Obaidi. Part I, held in October 2010, exhibited the recent work of Modhir Ahmed, Nedim Kufi and Hanaa Malallah; Part II, which was held in November 2010, displayed the work of Ghassan Ghaib, Kareem Risan and Nazar Yahya; Part III, which opened in February, showcased the paintings of Himat M. Ali, Amar Dawod and Delair Shaker.
Dia Al-Azzawi (b. Baghdad, 1939) has held numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide. His work features in the collections of museums and institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Museum of Modern Art, Tunis; Museum of Modern Art, Amman; Kinda Foundation, Saudi Arabia; British Museum, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Harba Collection, Iraq and Italy; Gulbenkian Collection, Barcelona; and Library of Congress, Washington D.C.
Al-Azzawi graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad in 1964 after completing a degree in Archaeology from Baghdad University in 1962. His studies of ancient civilisations and Iraqi heritage had a profound impact on his art, and a key objective in the early formation of his artistic style was to link the visual culture of the past to the present, an approach which resonates with the artist today. Al-Azzawi’s move to London, in 1976, led him to rediscover book art. He affirms that the art of the book is the truest art form of the Arab world, even more so than painting, and encourages artists of the region to draw inspiration from, and reinterpret, this tradition
Rafa Al-Nasiri (b. Tikrit, 1940) has exhibited extensively throughout the Middle East, Europe and Asia including solo exhibitions at ITU Gallery, Hong Kong, 1963; National Museum of Fine Arts, Amman, 1981; Galerie Faris, Paris, 1983; Al Riwaq Gallery, Baghdad, 1986; Sharjah Museum, Sharjah, 1997; Atelierhaus Eglau, Kampen, Germany, 1999; Central Art Gallery, Beijing, 1989, and Green Art Gallery, Dubai, 2008. In 1998 he held a joint exhibition with Al-Azzawi at Gallery La Teinturerie, Paris and a show with Ali Talib in 1992 at the Shoman Foundation, Darat Al Funun, Amman.
Al-Nasiri is a graduate of the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad (1959) and holds a BA in Printmaking from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (1963) and a Diploma in the subject from the Gravura, Lisbon (where he received a scholarship from the Gulbenkian Foundation in 1969). He has derived much inspiration from the work of Chinese artists such as the ink paintings of Qi Baishi and Huang Yu Yi, Al-Nasiri’s teacher at the Academy. His recent work is inspired by the poetry of Al-Mutanabbi, Al-Jawahiri, Mahmoud Darwish, Etel Adnan and May Muzaffar.
Ali Talib (b. Basra, 1944) has held numerous solo exhibitions including National Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad, 1976; Gallery d'Art 50 x70, Beirut, 1994; De Vrije Academie, The Hague, 2003; United Nation Humans Settlements Programme, Barcelona, 2004; Green Art Gallery, Dubai, 2008; and Karim Gallery, Amman, 2009. He has also participated in biennials and triennials as well as major group shows including Four Iraqi Artists, Alif Gallery, Washington D.C., 1994; Cité International des Arts Exhibition, Paris, 2004; and Iraqi Artists in Exile, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, Texas, 2009.
Talib studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad, and holds an MA in Graphic Design from Helwan University in Cairo. Through his work, Talib explores intersections of the past and present and is particularly interested in the subjects related to humanity. Of his work and his role as an artist he states: ‘I am not a man who creates distance between painting and his personal state of being, testing his relationship with the space in which he moves. The painting is just like finding an incomparable secret after enduring hardship.’