signed in Arabic and signed 'Moudarres' (lower right); signed twice and dated in Arabic, signed, inscribed and dated 'F.moudarres SYRIA 1973-1987' (on the reverse)
oil and sand on canvas
78 5/8 x 48 3/8in. (199.6 x 124.4cm.)
Painted in 1973-1987
Private Collection, Damascus.
Anon. sale, Christie's Dubai, 27 Oct 2009, lot 31.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

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Bibi Naz Zavieh
Bibi Naz Zavieh

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Lot Essay

The imposing wall of faceless figures depicted in the present work by the Syrian master of Modern art Fateh Moudarres is equally beautiful and haunting and the spectral appearance of the figures, with their eyes and mouth shut, gives an insight into Moudarres' state of mind and life tragedies. The unidentifiable figures reference a powerless community that is stripped intentionally from its own identity and that is lost in an ever-changing society.

Set against a background of warm hues of red, rust and ochre that are reminiscent of the landscapes of Moudarres' native Syria, the composition of totemic-like figures, with their square-shaped heads depicted one above the other and deprived of perspective, references the ancient Assyrian, Sumerian and Babylonian figurative styles and in particular, the ornamentation on stone columns of Palmyra. Aligned while facing the viewer, the faceless figures appear silent, expressionless and oblivious of their surroundings; alluding to the on-going danger felt within the Syrian society at the time, to the sense of collective loss and to the human cruelty that occurred in times of war, as a monster-like figure is to be found amongst the crowd.

Although the figures are standing still and appear frozen in time and space, where they are unable to express themselves, their proximity reveals a sense of unity and intimacy as they become metaphors for the Syrian people, who have joined forces against the social and political tragedies that have affected the Middle East. There is a palpable aura of helplessness and sadness that radiate from the canvas, the muted sense of dread that accompanies a farewell. However, the highlights in the faces and the shimmering bright accents provide an undertone of hope and shine a subtle beacon of optimism amidst the unfortunate events that Fateh Moudarres had experienced throughout his personal life and career.

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