Dia al-Azzawi, Watching Over Others [يراقب الآخرين], 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 230 x 180 cm

Meem Gallery presents The Lebanon Works, a solo exhibition of the work of celebrated Iraqi artist, Dia al-Azzawi.

Painted in Dia al-Azzawi’s recently established studio in Lebanon, set back from the water in a shady grove just next to Nabu Museum, which was opened in October 2018, these recent paintings exude a fresh vibrancy that may have sprung from the change of scenery— especially the change between London and the tranquil and picturesque northern Lebanese coastal town of Chekka, close to the city of Batroun.

Azzawi as an artist has never been restricted in his exploration of time, space or creative imagination. While he may often use a distinct range of colours and some typical cultural motifs and artistic techniques, the worlds he creates within his canvases truly know no bounds.

Dia al-Azzawi, Hidden Gift [هدية مخفية], 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 180 x 230 cm. Courtesy of Meem Gallery
Dia al-Azzawi, Hidden Gift [هدية مخفية], 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 180 x 230 cm. Courtesy of Meem Gallery
In Hidden Gift, Azzawi creates a two-dimensional structure, which alternately resembles a figure, a vessel or an architectural form. His deliberate strong outlining, contrasting the heavy black shape with vivid green lines running through it, together construct a maze-like puzzle hiding a brightly-coloured object: the ‘gift’.

Dia al-Azzawi, Face of a Stranger [وجه الغريب], 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 180 x 230 cm. Courtesy of Meem Gallery
Dia al-Azzawi, Face of a Stranger [وجه الغريب], 2019. Acrylic on canvas, 180 x 230 cm. Courtesy of Meem Gallery
Face of a Stranger embraces a somewhat richer and more cheerful colour palette, the subject itself is significantly more melancholic. Themes of exile, distance and the loss of a homeland have featured heavily in Azzawi’s previous work and this painting continues these subjects by exploring the experience of a protagonist returning home after many years away.

Dia al-Azzawi, Imaginary Portrait [صورة متخيلة], 2019, . Acrylic on canvas, 270 x 400 cm. Courtesy of Meem Gallery
Dia al-Azzawi, Imaginary Portrait [صورة متخيلة], 2019, . Acrylic on canvas, 270 x 400 cm. Courtesy of Meem Gallery
Imaginary Portrait allows us a view into an individual’s psyche—a daydream, or perhaps a necessary mental escape. The figure depicted is again painted with Azzawi’s unique, abstracted take on Sumerian figural forms, heavily inspired by sculptures of deities with simple facial features and distinct lineaments, but most importantly with the strong, rounded gaze which he incorporates in so many of his paintings.


The exhibition runs until June 2021.
Info about the works is provided by the gallery.

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