ARTIST:

Hayv Kahraman

Hayv Kahraman
Collective Cut, 2008
Oil on linen
106.5 x 173 cm

Hayv Kahraman is an artist from Iraq. Spanning drawing, painting, and sculpture, her practice engages with very difficult issues surrounding female identity in her homeland – how women are victimised within their own culture, made subservient to men and often suffer the most from the effects of the war. Kahraman tells these tales of horror with a demure grace through her stunningly beautiful paintings. In this series of work, her images depict the scriptural story of the Sacrifice of The Lamb, which is central to the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, recasting the figures as women.

Hayv Kahraman
Heads On Plate, 2008
Oil on linen
173 x 106.5 cm

The Sacrifice of the Lamb is a legend which is recorded both in the Quran and the Bible. Abraham was told by God in a vision to sacrifice his only son as proof of his unquestioning devotion. In seeing the extent of Abraham’s faith God allows the substitution of a ram in the boy’s place. This event is symbolically repeated during the most important Muslim holiday where lambs are sacrificed as part of religious celebrations and feasts. Kahraman illustrates this fable from a woman’s perspective, controversially appropriating the sacred masculine theme to assert feminist equality. In these paintings the sacrificed lambs might also be metaphorically understood in relation to the practice of ‘honour’ killings.

Hayv Kahraman
Carrying On Shoulder 1 & Carrying On Shoulder 2, 2008
Oil on linen
Each panel: 173 x 76.3 cm

Kahraman’s Carrying On Shoulder I and Carrying On Shoulder II is an exquisitely painted diptych. Influenced by Persian miniatures, Renaissance and Chinese painting, art nouveau and fashion illustrations, Kahraman’s works convey a timeless classicism, setting her very contemporary dialogues within the rich fabric of history. Kahraman often portrays her characters with elongated swan-like necks, heightening their delicate refinement and physical and social vulnerability. The flattened perspective in her work conceives two-dimensionality as a conceptual contrast between joy and pain, illusion and reality and peace and violence.

Hayv Kahraman
Flaying the Lamb, 2008
Oil on linen
173 x 106.5 cm

Painted directly onto stretched linen, Flaying The Lamb contrasts the natural rough weave of the canvas with Kahraman’s highly polished painting technique, the juxtaposition between the real sumptuous fabric and the painted dresses heightening the spatial illusion. Though using a limited palette and simplified planar compositions, Kahraman achieves a tremendous amount of depth in her work through the intensity of her colours and veneers of layered patterning. Kahraman delivers this with effortless fluency: the whites of the lamb dazzle with the lustre of inlaid pearl and the black masses of hair expand like giant inky spills, replicating antiquity’s luxuriance.

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