A pioneer of Iraqi Modern art and one of the founders of the influential Baghdad Modern Art Group with renowned Iraqi artist Jewad Selim, Shaker Hassan Al Said continues to captivate and enchant viewers with his ability to transcend space, time and dimension.
Although he later became more recognised for the establishment of the One Dimension Group in 1971, his early works reflect the progression of the artist's deep thinking that pushed him to later exemplify the notion of the spiritual in art through abstraction. The Articulate Cockerel from 1954 is a seminal example of the artist's earlier works that were characterised by bright and primitive colours inspired and derived from ancient Iraqi carpets. Notoriously kept in the artist's studio for thirty years, it is a prime example of the works that were produced as a part of the Baghdad Modern Group that was established in 1951, whereby a reinterpretation of Arab, particularly Iraqi, artistic heritage was reinterpreted within a modern context.
In The Articulate Cockerel, a rather whimsically stylised bird stands at the centre of the foreground. Through the use of black outline and bright red, green, orange and blue tones to depict this magnificent creature, the inspiration derived from folk motifs is clear in form as well as content. Primitive in its depiction, the abstract interpretation and textural quality is characteristic of his later paintings, and this work thus marks the slow progression in which Al Said shunned human and figurative representation and abandoned any composition that had the slightest figurative suggestion.
The use of a bird was a motif the artist often used in his earlier works; several examples were part of the permanent collection of the Saddam Arts Centre. What results is a delightful and enchanting work that shows his fascination with line that dominated his later work. As such, although The Articulate Cockerel is vehemently different to the works that later dominated the artist's oeuvre, the techniques implemented reveal that Al Said's negotiations and understanding of time through its collapse into space is exemplified in the various stages of his artistic development.