10 January, 2012 - 10 January, 2012


Nazar Yahya

Nazar is an exiled Iraqi who has experienced the tragic devastation of his country. He left Iraq to Jordan in 1997 until 2003 when he returned back to Iraq to meet his family. The situation in his native Baghdad was too sad for him so he returned back to Jordan with his family in 2003 and resolved to continue and indeed, expand his art in an environment, which is foreign to his sensibility as a creator of profoundly spiritual artworks. Nevertheless, courageously beginning anew as an artist in Houston, Texas, he has gone on to create an art that dramatizes his spirituality and his profound sense of culture as well as the pathos and pain of his peoples’ terrible grief. It may be true that the Iraq war was hatched in Houston, the oil and energy capital of America. It may have been a freak fortune of war that brought Nazar to Houston, but it is in Houston, that Nazar has produced artworks of international significance.

Nazar rsquo;s conviction and his passion are evident in a series of recent works that symbolize the biblical story of Joseph’s exile in the desert and at the same time, tell a parallel story of the cruel Iraqi exodus that began with the US support of the dictatorship of Sadam, followed by the defeat of Sadam’s army during the Gulf War, and ended with a terrible, destabilizing and inept occupation of Iraq. It takes an artist of great ability and faith like Nazar who has endured much pain and who is able to distill the form and the emotion of a tragic era and go on to express a profoundly personal religious truth.

Nazar rsquo;s insight takes the form of hands covering the face, each image a prayer more than an act of covering up, not shame, but hiding their light. The image of the wolf represents hidden fright, the lone killer and the psychological trigger, a sudden loss of identity aimed at the heart. The shrouded figure is a pure form suffused with Islamic mysticism. The figure, burdened with suffering, is the hermetic image of a contemporary man with ancient roots. The story of Joseph needs to be told again and again, for it is the epic of the outcast, one who searching for the light of God, who becomes lost in the wilderness but is not deterred or defeated in his quest. The flame bursts from his head, in another of his most inspired works, because it focuses on the highest spiritual experience, the presence of God.

Nazar has become an important member of the burgeoning art community of Texas. His art is authentic and visionary. He is opening American eyes to the unique genius of his culture and of his people that the United States of America has so thoroughly wronged, at the same time his art affirms the belief in God as revealed through Sufism. During the internationally renowned Houston’s Fotofest, the Station Museum of Contemporary Art shall introduce this work to curators and critics from around the world.

James Harithas, Director,
Station Museum of Contemporary Art