Ahmed Alsoudani, Digging, 2007, mixed media on paper 108 x 52 inches Courtesy Thierry Goldberg Projects, New York
The horror and chaos of war are eloquently transcribed in Ahmed Alsoudani’s solo show at Thierry Goldberg Projects. Strewn body parts, shrouded figures in motion, blackened eyes and illegible expressions tumble and collide off the edge of large paintings on paper. Severed limbs lay in a pile or fly through the air. Figures are hunched over and faces are hidden. Everything is rendered with burnt and tangled lines within a somber palette of muted brown, gray, and green. The sensitive handling of line is reminiscent of DeKooning and Francis Bacon while depicting a space that is uniquely Alsoudani’s own. This is a space where narrative is lost, where brutality has no context, where everything is rife with tension and in a state of flux. This tension and motion is captured in a visual interplay of abstract form and representation and the balance held between them. This creates the effect of a moment frozen in time and free of gravity. The effect is like being inside of an explosion, disorienting and groundless.
“I’m working really hard to capture the moment between when the aircraft are attacking and the moment after the attack, that line between life and death.”
Alsoudani being interviewed by Bob Keyes, MaineToday.com, June 2006
In the tradition of Picasso’s Guernica and Goya’s Disasters of War, Alsoudani renders brutality on an epic scale. However, in the chaos of his explosions are gestures of tenderness, as when hands reach out towards others in the midst of suffering. The overall effect creates a feeling of empathy while one is simultaneously repulsed and horrified.
Alsoudani was born in Baghdad, fled to Syria after the first Gulf War and came to Washington DC for political asylum. He attended Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine; Skowhegan; and is currently enrolled in the MFA program at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. His family still lives in Iraq.