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Suad al-Attar (b. 1942)

Lot 260: - Suad Al-Attar , Iraqi B. 1942 Untitled oil on canvas laid down on board


October 23, 2008
London, United Kingdom

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signed and dated 1972 oil on canvas laid down on board


measurements note 79.5 by 59.5cm.; 31 1/4 by 23 1/2 in.


Private Collection, Italy (acquired directly from the artist)
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner


The renowned Iraqi artist Suad al-Attar has a beautiful individual vision that awakens an understanding in her viewers regardless of origin or sex. Her style and methodology is truly evocative of her ethnic and cultural origin. Arguably the best known female artist of the Arab world, this particular painting illustrates Attar's free and graphic treatment of her medium through the means of a simplistic background emphasising the central figure. It suggests notions of freedom and liberation, an attempt to escape either the boundaries of home, society, or possibly even her body, her identity. The howling animal depicted in a box in the corner, also suggests an awakening, as though from a deep sleep the woman appears in the wild, her hair flying in the strong winds that tear about the house. There is a sense of naked power as the woman comes to terms with her true nature and her present environment. The question of identity which recurs frequently in Attar's work is here indicated by the female figure; the pose in which she has been painted is one that can be read as simultaneously submissive and confrontational. The artist remarks on the role of the woman in Arab society emerging into the face of modernity, yet maintains a sense of a traditional atmosphere. Attar once said that "bodies are not the point" of her work. "It is about the suffering and strength of women". Suad al-Attar, Suad al-Attar Myths and Reflections, London 2002, n.p. Trees and nature have always been a vital component of Attar's work, and this piece is no exception. Again in her stylised fashion, Attar paints an unnatural tree which still remains connected with the scenery and tone of the whole painting. The colours used, along with the unrealistic imagery, bring to mind a dream-like quality to this art work, a characteristic ever present in Attar's oeuvre. From an aesthetic point of view alone, this painting is overwhelming. Her imagery and palette convey spirituality, dreams, and pure emotion, but it is the very ambiguity of the work that makes the piece so intriguing. Attar herself is constantly pushing boundaries, exploring her own imagination, emotions and feelings, she invites the viewer to enter this romanticised, magical world with her.

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