Selected works by Ahmed Alsoudani

Ahmed Alsoudani
Untitled

2008

Oil, acrylic, charcoal gesso on canvas

213 x 184 cm
Ahmed Alsoudani
We Die Out of Hand

2007

Charcoal, pastel and acrylic on paper

274.3 x 243.8 cm
During the first Gulf War, Ahmed Alsoudani fled to Syria before claiming asylum in America. Through his paintings and drawings he approaches the subject of war through aesthetics. Citing great artists of the past such as Goya and George Grosz whose work has become the lasting consciousness of the atrocities of the 19th and 20th centuries, Alsoudani’s inspiration comes directly from his own experiences as a child, as well as his concerns over contemporary global conflicts. In We Die Out Of Hand, the earthy background sets the stage for dreary prison gloom, while hooded figures are obliterated through mercilessly violent gestures, insinuating the horrors of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay with exquisite and torturous beauty.
Ahmed Alsoudani
You No Longer Have Hands

2007

Charcoal, pastel and acrylic on paper

213.4 x 274.3 cm
Alsoudani executes his works with a raw physicality, using materials such as paint and charcoal in an unorthodox way, often painting over drawing and vice versa. You No Longer Have Hands is spread over two large pieces of paper, the seam down the middle operating literally as a divide. Like many of Alsoudani’s images, there are no people in this work, rather the concepts of violence are presented as something too large and abstract to comprehend. Instead a graffiti strewn wall provides a hint of humanity against a raging black mass, torrential, abject and bereft.
Ahmed Alsoudani
Untitled

2007

Oil, acrylic, ink, gesso on canvas

182.9 x 213.4 cm
Ahmed Alsoudani
Untitled

2008

Oil, acrylic, charcoal gesso on canvas

213 x 184 cm
Alsoudani’s Untitled is barely recognisable as a portrait. Mixing charcoal with paint, the surface evolves as a dirty corporeal mass, as pure colours become tinged by sooty dust and paint drips down the canvas in contaminated streams. Describing what might be a head, Alsoudani offers up an anguished abstraction combining organic textures with geometric forms. Rendering carnage with an almost cartoon efficacy, Alsoudani summates the base instinct of destruction as a volume of fleshy fields punctuated by industrial rubble; hard-edged circles and arcs lend an absurd consumerist familiarity suggesting windows and bullet holes in the cold pictograph motifs.
Ahmed Alsoudani
Baghdad I

2008

Acrylic on canvas

210 x 370 cm
"The falling statue of a despot in the centre of Baghdad I recalls the toppling of the statue of Saddam. The rooster-like figure symbolizes America. Here the rooster is not only a figure of control but is injured as well and constrained. The basket of eggs to the left side of its neck represents ideas - unhatched ideas in this case; an armory of fragile potential. Alsoudani’s fascination with molecules and cellular references are apparent in the central egg-shaped object in the center of the rooster’s belly. The flood bursting through on the bottom center of the canvas carries Biblical associations and references the fractured nature of daily life in Baghdad – nothing works, pipes burst, the city is tacked together, evoked by the large nails depicted in different parts of the canvas. A figure on the upper right of the canvas bursts forth in a flourish of pageantry, representing the new Iraqi government, sprung forth from the chaos, compromised, bandaged and standing precariously on a teetering stool." Robert Goff
Ahmed Alsoudani
Baghdad II

2008

Acrylic on canvas

250 x 380 cm
"Baghdad II depicts a "typical" Baghdad scene: on the left side of the canvas a car has crashed into an American-built security wall - another suicide bombing attempt or an act of pure desperation. Stylized licks of red flame come up from the ground, an eyeball has rolled to the center of the painting on the bottom. The eyeball plays a role in terms of content and form but also alludes to Lebanese poet Abbas Baythoon. On the lower right hand side of the painting a head lies behind bars – this is a reference to a statue in Baghdad, which here Alsoudani has decapitated and, ironically, brought to life as an imprisoned figure. One way to read this is that under Saddam’s dictatorship art was constricted and imprisoned and this idea of censorship is continually evoked through a layered approach in this work. The female figure in the center right side of the painting is deliberately drawn in as opposed to painted, a martyr-figure both carrying and giving birth to change." Robert Goff
Ahmed Alsoudani
Untitled

2008

Charcoal, acrylic and pastel on paper

270 x 226 cm
Alsoudani’s Untitled mesmerizes with the power and chaos of an explosion, combining artistic references with combustive force. Reminiscent of cubist dynamics, Alsoudani approaches his theme of war from every angle, broaching the incomprehensibility of combat and its repercussions through his fragmented and turbulent composition. Drawn in charcoal and pastel Alsoudani’s gestures convey raw passion and intensity with a rarefied elegance, his subtle shading and ephemeral acrylic washes simultaneously evoking the detailed etching in Goya’s Disasters of War and the hyper-violent media graphics of Manga illustrations. Alsoudani negotiates these terrains with unwavering authority, responding to current events with commanding hindsight to develop contemporary history painting that’s both high-impact and enduring.

Other Resources

artfacts.net
Additional information and images – Ahmed Alsoudani

artnet.com
Various and images – Ahmed Alsoudani

aljazeera.net
Al Jazeera interview with Ahmed Alsoudani, 23 January 2010:

This week on One on One we meet the Iraqi-born artist Ahmed Alsoudani, who talks about how an act of graffiti forced him to leave his family and the country of his birth, Iraq.
Defacing a mural of Saddam Hussein put his life in danger and led to a journey that took him to the US.
Never planning his career, his exceptional talents as an artist have put his works in high demand. Addressing important social issues and the impact of war, he wants viewers to have a conversation with his paintings and to uncover more layers the longer they look at it.


goffrosenthal.squarespace.com
Profile article on Ahmed Alsoudani as featured in Art and Auction in November 2008 issue

thierrygoldberg.com
Wide selection of images and biographical details

galeriemichaeljanssen.de
Exhibiting gallery, Cologne, April - May 2008.

mehrgallery.com
Selected images and previous exhibition details.

saatchi-gallery.co.uk/blogon
Review of exhibition at Thierry Goldberg in 2007.