Meem Gallery is delighted to announce our participation in the third edition of Art Dubai Modern. Meem Gallery has chosen to highlight two outstanding artists from the Modern Iraqi art history, Faiq Hassan and Shakir Hassan Al Said. These two artists have often been described as pioneers, instrumental to the development of art in Iraq during the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s and teachers of the next generation of artists of the Arab world.
Faiq Hassan and Shakir Hassan Al Said were selected not only due to the high quality and scarcity of their work, but also due to their legacy as founding fathers of the Modern Iraqi art movement. Both artists founded specialist groups, wrote about art, produced art and supported the younger generation of Iraqi artists, as well as their peers. By bringing together these two prominent artists, Meem Gallery will display highly important paintings that act as monuments to a specific time in Arab art history.
The works selected for this presentation are dramatically different in terms of aesthetics. Faiq Hassan’s 1950 work, Bedouin Tent, brings to mind the early Cubist works of Picasso and Braque. Hassan himself has been referred to as Primitivist, an Impressionist and a Cubist – and regardless of which technical term one finds most appropriate for his work, the main achievement of his oeuvre was his ability to immortalize the aspects of everyday life in Iraq. In Bedouin Tent, the flatness of the work, the sharp, angular lines and the earth tone are all evocative of the Cubist style of the early 20th Century, however, within the work is something truly indicative of Arab culture, in the form of the subject. The coffee urn, shrouded figures and coffee cups are all ubiquitously iconic of the Bedouin people, a nomadic yet hospitable culture found throughout the Arab world.
Faiq Hassan studied in Paris, under a Government funded scholarship he was able to enroll at the Ecole Nationale Superieue des Beaux-Arts, and through his education there found himself returning to Iraq, bringing together his sense of nationality and the techniques he had been taught. This formulated in his founding of the Societe Primitive, or Pioneers Group, which while short-lived, included prominent members such as Ismail Fattah and Kaydem Haider.
Shakir Hassan Al Said’s Untitled of 1976 is a deeply abstracted work from what has become known as his “Wall series”. Al Said’s practice became deeply conceptual after experimenting early in his career with the more traditional style of figuration, illuminated by his formation of the One Dimension Group in 1971. The shift from pictorial scenes to the abstracted walls of Baghdad allowed Al Sad to focus more upon the form of the letter; approaching it from a layman’s level, rather than a calligraphic master.
Shakir Hassan al Said also studied at the Ecole Nationale Superieue des Beaux-Arts, graduating in 1959, prior to which he studied under the influential artist Jewad Selim at the Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad. In 1951 he co-founded the Baghdad Group for Modern Art, and later founded Al Bu’d al Wahad, or One Dimension Group. His manifesto from the Baghdad Group for Modern Art was considered the first ever artist manifesto in Iraq, and has contributed to his prominence as an artist, writer, art historian and theorist.