ARTIST:

Ahmed Alsoudani

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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
Untitled, 2008
Oil, acrylic, charcoal gesso on canvas
213 x 184 cm

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.
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Thursday, 26 November 2020: COVID-19 / CORONAVIRUS UPDATE:

Following the UK Government’s latest announcement placing London in Tier 2, Saatchi Gallery will re-open from Wednesday, 9 December 2020. We will re-open with our free entry Ground Floor exhibitions (Philip Colbert: Lobsteropolis and Antisocial Isolation) from December 9. The new dates for our next headline exhibition JR: Chronicles will be announced shortly.

Government guidelines on health and safety measures will remain in effect, including social distancing within a one-way system in our galleries, the provision of hand sanitising stations, and the wearing of face coverings by visitors and staff. All visitors are encouraged to pre-book their tickets prior to entry.

We look forward to welcoming you back soon.