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Rafa Al Nasiri (Iraqi, 1940-2013)
Lots are subject to 5% import Duty on the importat… Read more 'Rafa Nasiri's vision is the poetic vision. His works testify to the speed with which thinking occurs, an immediacy that the art of painting can catch and convey. Our spirit translates its illuminations, explosions through the hands of the painter who uses colours, lines, shapes to unveil the adequate traces of his mind. But this mind is not a void. It is not an entity independent of the world but it rather needs the world in order to be. The medium, the matrix, the catalyst, the mediator between the world and the spirit is, for Rafa, the canvas while it is being painted. The paintings do not describe; they are an inner vision made visible.' (E. Adnan, quoted in "The Poetic Vision" in Rafa Al Nasiri: His Life & Art, Amman 2010, p. 223). Iraqi painter and printmaker Rafa Al Nasiri is infamous for his compelling abstract works on paper and canvas that draw on nature as a source of inspiration, often including Arabic calligraphy. Born in Tikrit, his childhood was inspired by the nature-filled surroundings of his hometown, a theme that has since continued to form the basis of all his oeuvre. From 1959 until 1963, Nasiri left for Beijing where he was exposed to the serenity of Chinese art. Specifically, the ink paintings of Qi Baishi and the works of his teacher Huang Yu Yi, left a lasting impact on his work and his exploration of calligraphic forms and words. Using Chinese notions of abstraction and empty space, Nasiri's work takes on a minimalistic approach of possible forms and colours bringing together these deep saturated colours and fluid gestural lines to create beautiful, all-encompassing abstracted and spatial landscapes. As one of the founding members of the New Vision Group (Al Ru'yya Al Jadidah) formed in Baghdad, Nasiri's place in Iraqi art history is significant; his poetic journey, drawing on matter and space, is intrinsic to engulfing his viewers in a spiritual experience that has successfully led to over 35 solo exhibitions in the Middle East, Europe and the Far East as well as numerous group exhibitions and international biennales around the world. This season, Christie's has the pleasure to offer two early works from Rafa Nasiri, from the 1970s and 1980s respectively, that show a deep appreciation and meditative understanding of the cosmos and cosmic creation using horizontal lines that radiate with rhythmic vibrations. Merging Iraqi poetry and literature with European social consciousness and Asian philosophy Nasiri creates his own unique style, which shows a mastery of composition in an elegant use of line and space. In the work from the 1970s (Lot 37), Nasiri offers a composition that focuses on the profound impact of the desert, of the origins of man and layers of the strata that suggests a cosmic mystery. Infatuated the idea of the horizon and space, Nasiri strictly adopts layer upon layer of horizontal colour planes and lines to evoke a somewhat spatial and cosmic landscape. A tranquil, organic shape moves forward out of the plane, implying an impending and constantly changing mystical cosmos. His painting comprises of small details and simple symbols which are both familiar and incongruous and provides an ambitious blending between forms, spaces and their relationships. Perhaps as a deep-rooted consciousness of Asian sensitivities and aesthetics, Nasiri's use of a single red colour that is rendered in various hues combined with neutral tones thus provides a perfect balance and harmony. To this end the present work offers a sense of tranquillity that is reassuring in its spirituality. In Adea ela Baghdad (Prayers for Baghdad) (Lot 36) however, although there also a play on horizontal lines and nature, there is a tension between rectangular shades of blue and horizontal strata that is broken by the architectural like arch that spans across the lower part of the canvas. His use of colours manifest a deep sense of agony and loneliness represented in the overwhelming blackness that emanates a sense of spirituality. No doubt inspired by the Iran-Iraq war and its impact on the artist's beloved Baghdad, the addition of the phoenix, which flaps its wings, becomes a symbol of supremacy of the spiritual over material things. Equally a number of circular forms appear over the rich geometrical stretches of colour, evoking a sense of hovering over the world, are an almost metaphysical connotation of a greater power. Nasiri thus offers hope at a time of despair and desperation. In both and in fact all of Nasiri's works, it is important to highlight his use of Arab calligraphy as an aesthetic element. Although illegible, its abstract forms attracted the artist to use them in his compositions to establish a formal identification between nature and man as well as between space and time. In this sense although Nasiri's works focus on the mystical cosmos, there is a warmth of recognisable natural elements that allows his viewers to relate and identify with his creations PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, AMMAN
Rafa Al Nasiri (Iraqi, 1940-2013)

Adaa ela Baghdad (Prayers for Baghdad)

Rafa Al Nasiri (Iraqi, 1940-2013)
Adaa ela Baghdad (Prayers for Baghdad)
signed and dated 'Nasiri 1984' (lower right)
acrylic on canvas
31 5/8 x 39 3/8in. (80.5 x 100cm.)
Painted in 1984
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
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Lots are subject to 5% import Duty on the importation value (low estimate) levied at the time of collection shipment within UAE. For UAE buyers, please note that duty is paid at origin (Dubai) and not in the importing country. As such, duty paid in Dubai is treated as final duty payment. It is the buyer's responsibility to ascertain and pay all taxes due.

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