DIA AL-AZZAWI, Black Roots, 2001 + Blue Landscape, 2015.

From 30 August to 3 October 2017 - Musée d'Issoudun + Espace Claude Lemand

  • AZZAWI, Black Roots.

    Black Roots, 2001. Acrylic on wood panel, diam. 120 cm. Donation Claude & France Lemand. Museum, Institut du monde arabe, Paris. © Dia Al-Azzawi. Courtesy Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris.

  • AZZAWI, Blue Landscape.

    Blue Landscape, 2016. Acrylic on 3D wood panel, 200 x 6 cm. Donation Claude & France Lemand. Museum, Institut du monde arabe, Paris. © Dia Al-Azzawi. Courtesy Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris.

Dia Al-AZZAWI, Black Roots, 2001 + Blue Landscape, 2015.

By Claude Lemand

11 Septembre 2001. Watching over and over again the attack on New York’s Twin Towers on the news, Dia Al-Azzawi had an imme­diate artistic reac­tion to this. Black Roots depicts a night­mare vision: the two towers are still standing yet they are black and car­bonized, sur­rounded by enor­mous dark flames creeping up, whilst the sky and horizon are black.

Al-Azzawi is an Arab nation­alist open to other cul­tures, com­mitted in defending and rep­re­senting the iden­tity of the Arab world’s cul­tures. He always denounced the West’s attacks on the Arab world and its people, as well as its sup­port for Israel and for cor­rupted author­i­tarian Arab regimes… However, given that the New York attack was led by young Saudi men, the artist realised that the ancient Arab cul­ture had a dark and neg­a­tive side to it. Black Roots clearly states that Arabs also have a respon­si­bility with regards to their own mis­for­tune: it is a tribes’ people who have a pas­sion for vio­lence and destruc­tion.

Born in Baghdad in 1939, Dia Al-Azzawi set­tled in London in 1976. He vis­ited sev­eral museums and libraries across Europe that enabled him to dis­cover the arts of many civ­i­liza­tions and to redis­cover Mesopotamia’s rich cul­tural her­itage as well as the manuscripts from the Arab civ­i­liza­tion’s golden ages during the Abbasid era.

The cul­ture and the his­tory of Azzawi’s home country and the Arab world as a whole have always been the main source of his inspi­ra­tion. He very much appre­ci­ated poetry and he pro­duced a pro­lific and rich oeuvre, inspired by the great modern and con­tem­po­rary Arab poets of the past.

Out of the 20 tondos he painted since 2001, Black Roots is the only tragic one, relating to con­tem­po­rary events. All the other tondos cel­e­brate through colour the world’s beauty, the love of life, the blue of the dreams at night without any night­mares.

Such an example of these joyful tondos is the large three-dimen­sional tondo enti­tled Blue Landscape of 2015. It is a cubistic com­po­si­tion which could allude to a real land­scape seen through the plane’s window (the artist travels exten­sively) or a window with a view on the blue Mediterranean Sea, a land­scape from a dream char­ac­terised by its deep blue colour, alluding to either day or night… it stays open for inter­pre­ta­tion.

These two tondos per­fectly exem­plify the two per­ma­nent influ­ences on London’s great Arab artist, that of Pablo Picasso on his works inspired by mas­sacres and hor­rific events that are trau­ma­tising the Arab world since decades, and that of Henri Matisse on his joyful and colourful works that reflect the love of life in Nature and in the Oriental Gardens.

Translated from French by Valérie Didier Hess.

Copyright © Galerie Claude Lemand 2012.

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