Meem Gallery presents Mosquito Effects, new works of the acclaimed Iraqi artist Mahmoud Obaidi.
Speaking truth to power has never been something Mahmoud Obaidi has shied away from in his work. The artist was introduced to the notion of injustice from his adolescence and has since spent much of his life processing the destruction of his homeland and the isolation of exile. At the same time, he has found commonality in the suffering of a myriad of communities around the world who have also faced the brutal force of racism, occupation and inconceivable loss.
In creating art which confronts these complex issues, Obaidi looks beyond simplistic politics and perception of identity, instead seeking to uncover and understand trauma from a historical, structural and geographical lens.
As with much of Obaidi’s oeuvre, this latest body of work is made up of a multitude of layers which lie behind the external, visible yet abstract structures, shapes and colour, revealing a visual inquiry which goes far beyond the difficult topics which he seeks to tackle – namely colonisation and genocide – and simultaneously forces him to look within and explore his own personal sense of displacement.
Obaidi’s paintings are large-scale canvases with compositions in a range of media. They offer dark and obscured glimpses into the somber story of Indigenous loss and the brutality of colonization. He draws impressions of maps and landscapes, abstracted topography and linear grids denoting territories and divisions, all acting as the visual context for Indigenous loss and the brutality of colonization. Some of these were based on, or inspired by, existing maps, including the ‘Trail of Tears,’ a route of forced displacement of the Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations in.
About the Artist
Mahmoud Obaidi is an Iraqi artist whose work is informed by his experiences of exile and the trauma of loss, displacement and colonisation. Born in Baghdad in 1966, Obaidi developed his artistic practice against a backdrop of political and social tension in Iraq, including the Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War. He left Iraq in 1991, eventually settling in Canada, where he was inspired by the history and present-day experiences of Indigenous communities. This led him to create a series of large-scale paintings that explore the impact of colonisation on Indigenous people, drawing on elements of maps and landscapes to create dark, abstracted compositions that reflect on the trauma and loss of dispossession. Through his work, Obaidi seeks to confront the complex issues of colonisation and genocide, while also reflecting on his own personal sense of displacement.
Mosquito Effects by Mahmoud Obaidi
Location: Meme Gallery
Duration: February 28 – May 30, 2023