Friday, August 1, 2008

Walid Siti "Land on Fire" @ Leighton House

Currently at the Leighton House is Land on Fire, an exhibition featuring two recent bodies of work Family Ties and Precious Stones by the Iraqi - Kurdish painter and printmaker Walid Siti. The exhibition is one of four in the 'Here We Are' series of exhibitions curated by Rose Issa, independent curator and specialist in visual arts from the Middle East and North Africa.

No.9 Precious Stones series, crayon & acrylic on paper, 1998

Based in Britain, Siti no longer resides Iraq. However, he remains emotionally tied to his native land. Duhok, where he spent his childhood, continues to be a source of inspiration. Notions such as the complexity of identity, the seemingly ceaseless wars in Iraq, ethnic cleansing, the cyclical nature of violence, and family are all re-occuring themes in his work.

There is a common cohesive compositional element, an encircled monolith form. The idea of center transforms into what Siti calls "visual poetry" the eye moves around the focal entry point, one is able to draw conclusions as to what they feel is at the heart of each piece.

The Precious Stones series (1996-2006) creates an organic symbolic landscape. The palette Siti uses, varying shades of blacks, whites and greys, all echo the natural material that he is paying homage to. There are strong spiritual undertones throughout the series. As movement is generated around the central form, images of Mecca during Hajj come to mind. Think of the awe inspiring sight of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims as they circumambulate the Kaaba en masse. Or a scientific model of the planets circling the sun.

The second series entitled Family Ties (1999-2008) is an exploration into the notion of belonging, within the family and community. to various groups, religious, social, tribal, and of course familial. Within these groups people gain feelings of attachment and belonging that can be at times comforting or nurturing but can also be suffocating.

Through the use of geometric forms such as cones, circles, lines, and spirals, Siti works with abstract symbolism. Simplistic and yet poignant, these sober spaces speak of the continuous nature of human existence. Birth leads to death. Construction leads to destruction which in turn leads to reconstruction. His work stress the concept of universality. In each of his pieces there is a constant circular force that perpetuates the cyclical nature of being.

First was the Stone, acrylic on canvas, 177 x 310 cm 2006

Land on Fire
on from the 16th of July to the 4th of August 2008 at the Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Road London W14 8LZ tel.020 7602 3316

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