Fateh Moudarres is undeniably one of the most iconic artists of the Arab world. A celebrated painter, musician, critic, poet and writer, Moudarres' style and technique are widely admired and instantly recognisable. As he resurrected the Assyrian, Sumerian and Babylonian figurative styles and altered them to create his own artistic language, Moudarres depicts compositions that are full of symbolism and he envisioned his figures, forms and colours as musical compositions, given their complex references and notes. His art reflects the socio-political climate of Syria in the twentieth century and equally themes from his personal life and experience.
The present work was acquired by the owner from her aunt who had in turn acquired it directly from Moudarres' atelier in Damascus. Painted in 1965, it depicts a family portrait and gives the viewer a glimpse of Syrian life from a peaceful time in the nation's history. His later works however reflected on the tragedies that had marked his lifetime as he lost two of his four children at a young age and was gravely affected by the political turmoil engulfing his homeland.
Characterised by exaggerated bodies, prominent hands and warm red hues, Moudarres portrays a family of six with totemic form. With variations of red, he represents passion and the love for his own family. The spectrum of reds, blues and ochres presented in the painting share a cool undertone, which makes the colours appear less fiery and rather calm and serene. A discernable narrative and testimony about family and kinship, its aesthetics are however closely linked to Syrian history and culture.
The figures, alike stacked squares, recall the Syrian village of Maaloula where houses are compartmentalised and constructed on top of each other as well as the Assyrian statuary and the figures discovered on the Palmyrene frescoes. As such, the abstract figures hint at the influence of Christian iconography and are simultaneously reminiscent of Mamluk buildings that alternate layers of black basalt and ochre-coloured stones.
Constantly referencing history as well as his cultural and religious heritage, Moudarres portrays many facets of Syrian life throughout his works. It is this same assimilation of references that have become his signature style in time.