Meem Gallery will present a solo exhibition dedicated to the sculpture and tapestries of Iraqi modern art pioneer, Dia Azzawi. Renowned for his colourfully rendered paintings, in recent years Azzawi has explored the art of sculpture more actively. Drawing on the visual culture of Mesopotamia, the martyrdom of Hussein, Arabic literature and poetry, and contemporary political issues, Azzawi’s use of various media – painting, drawing, sculpture, dafatir (book art), and tapestry – can be linked thematically.
Tapestry is a new venture for the artist, a medium that is once again seeing a revival after the popularity of the tapies of European modernists such as Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger and Pablo Picasso. A key work in the exhibition, Jenin Jenin, is a reworking of early 2002 work of the same title. Hand crafted at Atelier Pinton in France, the work is brought to life through this unusual medium to create a monumental masterpiece, measuring 300 x 456 cm. This impressive work will be shown alongside two smaller, more colourful works that reflect Azzawi’s iconic style, also created as tapestries.
Azzawi’s sculpture has gained considerable renown with key works such as Oh Tigris, exhibited in the British Museum’s Word into Art (2006), and Wounded Soul, displayed at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art’s inaugural exhibition Intersections (2010). Like his paintings, Azzawi’s sculptures are often vividly coloured, although he has also produced works in monochromatic tones and white bronze. Something Different will include a collection of sculptural works which have never been exhibited, most of which that were cast in the last three years.
Born in Baghdad in 1939, Azzawi’s art 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, Damascus; Museum of Modern Art, Tunis; Museum of Modern Art, Amman; Kinda Foundation, Saudi Arabia; Una Foundation, Casablanca; Arab Monetary Fund, Abu Dhabi; Development Fund, Kuwait; Jeddah International Airport; British Museum, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Tate Modern, London; Saudi Bank, London; United Bank of Kuwait, London; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Bibliothéque Nationale de France, Paris; Colas Foundation, Paris; Harba Collection, Iraq and Italy; Gulbenkian Collection, Barcelona; Library of Congress, Washington, DC; and The World Bank, Washington, DC.