Can you describe yourself in a few sentences and how your Iraqi roots have influenced you as both a person and an artist?
I think as a human being I came to this life, not for anything other than to work art and live with art, I was born in Baghdad 1965, I studied fine art there and then completed it in the Netherlands, where I grew up and lived there for more than 28 years, where my artistic personality was formed, my name comes into view as one of the top 50 artists in The Netherlands, I still have my studio there, have become an audience and was able to live from my art since 1995 so far, I think I was an academic painter, was fascinated by the subjects and academic techniques especially with the landscape, after that I got influence by Cobra Group and the German expressionist school until 2003 where the beginning of the war in my Fatherland and the fall of Baghdad!
I went to Baghdad in same year fall, where I entered in with a taxi from Jordan Where was flying not is allowed to Baghdad! It was a surprise when I arrived in Baghdad where the overall climate of my city was gray with two tones! Note that was Spring in March! Those who visited Baghdad in the past and in the spring exclusively know what I mean by how much pain! it turns into a paradise that smells of pure flowers and its rich colors, a flavor of plants, and many things that distinguish Baghdad from other cities.
The atmosphere of Baghdad was sad, gray, dry, its trees almost screaming thirsty, sunny skies but dark with clouds of smoke, no birds in the sky, streets and sidewalks shattered, dry blood everywhere, people in quiet and deadly fear! This is what changed my thoughts and impressions, was thinking what may to do to close all this destruction? I began to work on erosion and its aftermath, as I saw erosion in my country in everywhere, The change in my work has confused my Dutch audience, who used to see my paintings as bright colors have turned into earth, rust, gray colors, unilateral numbers, burning, oxidation and aging. My sales went down into half and I suffered for a while! Then my audience returned back to me again after realizing the importance of what concerns me!
In your artwork you are exploring the subject of war – does your work intend to form a collective memory or to build something completely new out of the fragments of destruction?
The war topic has a direct and fundamental impact on my artwork, It has occupied most of my thinking for its disastrous consequences for innocent people, not on the war makers, they know each other and enemies of each other but they fight each other with that innocent people who do not know each other and are not enemies of each other,…. So the result is that humans are always losers! I dealt with the subject of war almost differently, did not use scenes of destruction of war in its direct form as photos, am not a camera! I dealt with the subject of erosion as a memento of war, used everything available to express the scenes that I saw, whether live or through the media! I searched the roads, the rubble for the remnants of the neglected rusty objects of metal pieces, cans, boxes or their remains, book covers, wooden pieces, windows, and doors. I worked hard to give each piece the position of the main shape in the painting to be in the foreground! In my point of view, I wanted to find an alternative of the innocents who lost their lives and the devastation that has afflicted the neighborhoods of Baghdad and Iraq in general, without a rational reason to justify the war, So always my goal is to honor and to remember those innocent people.
You are working with mixed media – how did you develop your style and technique and what techniques and materials do you especially enjoy working with?
I have had attempts to use non-traditional materials since the academic days in Baghdad I was influenced by some of the Iraqi artists who had a brilliant reputation in the Iraqi art, which occupies an advanced position among Middle Eastern countries. After leaving Iraq to Paris and then to Berlin where I stayed for one year, which brought me closer to the works of art of the German expressionists and the study of their immortal works such as Ernest Kirchner, Emil Nolde, Max Pichtain, Otto Müller, as well as Austrians Oscar Kokoschka and Igun Shillet. I knew then how the artwork becomes less interested in formal aspects to overcome the content, however violent and bloody! To express the reality subordinated to the psychological state of the artist, which is a projection of self-longing to distort the reality and suggest to the viewer an emotional reaction, but soon moved to Amsterdam on a short visit which I liked and decided to settle it, I liked to get closer to the products of the Cobra group, even I met Karl Apel and Cornelle at the Stedelijk Museum in the mid-1990s. In 1997 had an exhibition in Frankenthaler in Germany and then participated in a group exhibition in Berlin with four Germans artists, Fortunately, I met the artist Anselm Kiefer, who was invited by one of the participating artists in the exhibition! Which had an impact on me very much later on how to deal with the diversity of materials he used, from that time I became more concerned with the nature of the material. After the war on my country in 2003, I started gradually moving to tools and other non-traditional materials that I used to! Over time, all of the available pieces of metal, oxides, debris, and debris have become available near the train tracks, which contain many surprises that fall from the trains after they are oxidized. In all my trips to any country, I devote time to go to places of rubble and to the remnants of buildings and factories and to the popular markets for the used things and car wreck where I find my pleasure …!
How do recent social and political happenings influence you and are you planning on exploring topics relating to other wars as well?
The social issues concerns, problems, joys were and still are important in my work! I believe that the real artist is a reflection of the society, this is part of his message, in addition to that art is a guide to the existence of a sophisticated society. I do not think that I am looking for wars to document it, I am keeping it as far as possible because war is ugly and lost to all parties treat it in my work to reduce it evil and harm.
Tell us a bit about your work “Barcode”!
It is a trademark used in trade in the import and export of goods, which is a line of figures and letters and lines of solid pillars, has always inspired me this beautiful shape design,
I have noticed, however, that this symbol is fully applicable in the marketing of the armies and the masses mobilized to force them into war. What raised me was that I found lists of long numbers of recruits who either died or disappeared in the wars and their family know nothing about them so far…… But these figures are still alive and are being paid by the government agencies of some countries plagued by war and corruption to go to the pockets of key people at the top Authority! So I made the code more of a mystery than a barcode.
The artist on Singulart: https://www.singulart.com/en/artist/mohammed-quraiseh-448