21 September, 2017 - 24 September, 2017

Albareh at Beirut Art Fair

Abed Al Kadiri

Al Maqāma Al Mosuliya

Abed Al Kadiri


Albareh Art Gallery/Beirut Art Fair 2017

Booth A2, Biel, Hall2


Al Bareh Art Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of recently awarded Lebanese artist Abed Al Kadiri’s series Al Maqāma 2014 at the Beirut Art Fair, September 22, 2017.


Al Kadiri began the Al Maqāma 2014 project with a painting dated and entitled July 5, 2014—an imposing, black work measuring 2m x 1m60—the day Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi made his first public speech at Al Nuri Mosque in Mosul, proclaiming himself the Khalif of all Muslims. Initially, the Al Maqāma 2014 series was meant as a one-time homage to one of the most influential Islamic artists of all time, Yahya Al Wasiti. However, by weaving in a very contemporary condemnation of the destructive acts in Mosul, by ISIL, and by appropriating ceaselessly updated media imagery, it has become an on-going project. In addition to this series, the exhibition will showcase a few never-before-shown works, such as  June 21, 2017, measuring 2m x 2m50, depicting the destruction of the Great Mosque of Al Nuri. The painting bookends the project with compelling tension.


Underpinning the violence of the ISIL cataclysm is the enlightened practice of Al Wasiti, one of the first known Arab figurative artists in Islamic Art. Al Wasiti’s illustrations for the celebrated Maqāmāt of Al Hariri raised figurative art in the Islamic world to new heights, demonstrating outstanding technical skill and conceptual vision. His works reflect Baghdad’s social and political life during the Abbasid caliphate. His hallmark is having realistically documented Iraqi lifestyle without succumbing to the traditional rules governing miniatures.


Al Kadiri, working through Al Wasiti’s techniques, investigates the concept of aniconism in Islamic art. AlWasiti’s freedom to paint figures under the Abbasids stands in stark counterpoint to the image-breaking, artefact-smashing violence of ISIL. Throughout the Maqāma 2014 series, Al Kadiri enlarges the ancient artist’s drawings, crystallising imagery of Iraq some 800 years ago, while confronting them with today’s conflicts. The latter is rendered in charcoal, a temporary medium that, over time, will fade and vanish from the painted surface.


This tension between the enlightened Al Wasiti and the darker forces of terror hits a contemporary nerve: ISIL’s powerful propaganda machine (the imagery of which has inspired the charcoal strokes) leaves no one indifferent, and contaminates our contemporary psyche. Unearthing Al Wasiti’s edifying work and vision at this particular moment seems like a fitting antidote to the downward spiral of current visual rhetoric.



Al Maqāma Al Mosuliya makes a fitting addition to this edition of the Beirut Art Fair, riffing off the fair’s centerpiece show “Ourouba,” which explores themes of memory, destruction, reconstruction, conflict and peace. Ultimately, Al Kadri works with ideas of impermanence—the fragility of memory, charcoal as a time-bound, vanishing medium, imagery itself as fleeting and untethered—and recollection—what do we remember and why, how does the image figure in the process of memory? 


A work in the current series, 26th February 2015, was awarded first prize in Beirut’s Sursock Museum 32nd Salon d’Automne.


Born in Beirut in 1984, Abed Al Kadiri double majored in Arabic literature and fine arts. He also holds an MA in Painting from the Lebanese University.  His work focuses on the deprivation of freedom in society by analyzing contemporary issues of violence, cultural heritage, migration and belonging in his work.


His solos include Abu Ghraib at The Faculty of Fine Arts, Beirut (2006); In the Corner at the Lebanese Artists Association, Beirut (2008); Identity Turbulences at FA Gallery, Kuwait (2011); Al Maqama Dar Al Funoon, Kuwait (2014); and Ashes to the Sea at Mark Hachem Gallery, Beirut (2016) Arcadia Al Bareh Art Gallery, Bahrain (2016). Al Kadiri has also participated in several group exhibitions regionally and internationally such as Contemporary Istanbul 2011, Hungary Art Moments 2013, Art Paris 2013, NW Gallery 2015,Cambridge, Basel Art Center 2016, Beirut Art Fair 2011, 2016 & 2017.