Friday, 21 May 2010

Mahmud Obaidi at Sultan Gallery

It is better not to use the word Terrorist anywhere near anyone, they might think you actually are one of them...
Mahmud Obaidi, an iraqi-canadian, invited to attend the opening for his exhibition in Kuwait, could not get his entry visa on time for the event. Too bad for those who were waiting for an explanation.
Although quite harsh and explicit art about homes in boxes, Obaidi entitled his exhibition in New York: "how not to look like a terrorist".
He puts on canvas elements of war, guns, tanks, corpses, signs of fragmented entities, inflated beings and words. It is about controversial art of expression to unleash what is said on the Middle East at all times. With the profusion of news 24h a day, it looks real. Then comes the argument: do we want an art that enhances our realities or just shows us the crude side of our unease? Do we want pretty or can we bear our own horrors?
Obaidi digs deep in expressing. He pulls from afar images to talk about: what is a home in the arab world? what do exiled arabs carry with them to find a living? what is imprinted in the collective subconscious? how are arabs perceived in the west?
He finds aesthetics to combine the several possibilities, he plays with organic material, adds hair to the collage. He made books in metal and paper with sand and dirt. He added wood and wire to give a sense of belonging. It must be an identity crisis. But isn't the whole arab world trying to forclose on any questioning beyond the post-colonialism or the oil era?
It is a an audacious exhibition and it's worth noting that the artist doesn't help anyone escape in lala land but rather pushes beyond the comfort zone.
(Until the 3rd of June)
 Sultan gallery link

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