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Ahmed Alsondani

Goff + Rosenthal
537 West 23rd Street, 212-675-0461
April 30 - May 12, 2009
Reception: Thursday, April 30, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Goff + Rosenthal is pleased to present a series of new works by Iraqi-born American artist Ahmed Alsoudani. Alsoudani’s turbulent paintings depict a disfigured tableau of war and atrocity. Although the content of the paintings draw on the artists’ own experiences of recent wars in Iraq, the imagery of devastation and violence—occasionally laced with a morbid and barbed humor—evoke a universal experience of conflict and human suffering. Despite the bright and colorful palette, a dark energy pervades these canvases. Abstract fragments contort into representational elements that elude easy narrative interpretation. Deformed figures, some almost indistinguishable and verging on the bestial, intertwine and distort in vivid, surreal landscapes. Figures are often depicted at a moment of transition—through fear or agony—from human to something grotesque. In some cases Alsoudani leaves an initial charcoal drawing of a figure directly on unprimed canvas, sundering the illusion of the painting and creating a haunting presence. Two of Alsoudani’s smaller paintings depict the busts of single figures monstrously disfigured. Suggestions of torture and suicidal acts of violence abound: a Gorgon-like figure, a water trough, obscure contraptions, clinical overhead lights, shrapnel, as well as a bloody explosion fenced off in a cave. Like the multitudinous depictions of ruination, art-historical references also proliferate in these paintings; from Bosch to Goya to Picasso, Grosz, Bacon and Guston. In one painting a suicide bomb packed with nails explodes but the form, hanging in mid-air, resembles Bosch’s depiction of the “Fall of the Rebel Angels” whereas the overhead lights are reminiscent of Francis Bacon. In the context of current events, Alsoudani’s paintings seem ironically more truthful in their depiction of violence than the censored photographic imagery generally available in the West. “I am not trying to make ‘war paintings’ but paintings about war,” says Alsoudani. “I’m more interested in depicting the effects of war on people who live under these circumstances.” A graduate of the Yale School of Art, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Maine College of Art, Alsoudani currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany. He is included in the Saatchi Gallery’s “Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East” and a monograph has recently been published by Hatje Cantz. His work has been critically reviewed in Der Spiegel, Art+Auction, The Sunday Times and The Independent.
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