Rafa Al Nasiri: 50 Years Retrospective
An exhibition that provides a thorough overview of the artist’s universe – extending from Iraq to Europe via China.
Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts
11 November – 11 December 2013
Rafa Nasiri, the prominent Iraqi artist based in Amman, will be hosted by Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, celebrating 50 years of his art career as a painter and printmaker. The exhibition, to be opened on 11th November, embraces around 100 art works, prints, paintings and art- books, produced during a period extending from 1963 to 2013 in different places of the world, thus providing a visual journey through time and place.
Rafa Al Nasiri’s basic training was in the Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad (1956-1959) under the supervision of Iraqi masters, themselves ingenious artists, such as Faieq Hassan, Jawad Selim, and other pioneers of contemporary and modern art in Iraq. His masters were his ideals, both as creators and mentors. In that art laboratory Nasiri learned painting according to European techniques, and devoted his life completely to his career. Yet, when he was offered a scholarship to continue his university studies, he favored China rather than Europe. This courageous decision by a 19 year old artist marked his career life with a unique mingle of East and West.
In China, where he spent four years (1959-1963), at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Peking, Nasiri was tutored by ingenious contemporary Chinese artists who also became his mentors in art and life. He did not simply learned the techniques of contemporary and ancient Chinese art, but adopted their attitude towards art and life; learned accuracy, dedication and patience. From China back to Baghdad, Nasiri was the first specialized Iraqi printmaker; he held classes and established a professional graphic department in the Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad.
As an artist Nasiri maintained a realistic style which he followed during his courses in both Baghdad and Peking. Later, in 1967 up to 1969, he was granted another scholarship by the Gulbenkian Foundation and got further training at Gravura, Lisbon.
It was in Lisbon that Nasiri became impassioned with abstraction, and shifted completely to abstract art. Mixing his Chinese expertise with Western techniques, his art seemed remarkably distinguished. Along these decades, Nasiri has been manipulating his entire potentials and knowledge to build up his career both as painter and printmaker, grasping every possible chance to brush up constantly his thoughts and techniques.
Throughout his career, art was Nasiri’s means to achieve freedom on an individual and artistic level. This retrospective is a view at the passing of time, political and artistic engagement, history and remaking history through Nasiri’s innovative methods and unwavering vision.
Nasiri sends a thoughtful message to the new generation of Iraqi artists regarding the importance of innovation, artistic achievement and love for country:
Keep using your spirit, ideas, and skills
for creating good art.
Keep living in the beautiful moments of your time.
Keep loving your homeland.”
Rafa Al Nasiri, September 2013
Rafa Nasiri: 50 Years of Printmaking Book Launch
On this occasion, or coinciding with it, SKIRA, published an art book entitled: Rafa Nasiri: 50 Years of Printmaking to be released on October. The book covers the artist’s long life experience as a prominent graphic artist, and documenting the various stages of his career. It includes articles written by: James Harithas, Director of Station Museum for Contemporary Arts, Huston, Etel Adnan, the prominent Lebanese-American poet and artist, Teresa Parker, printmaker and art critic, Maria Vivero, art critic, creative director of artBahrain, Modhir Ahmad, one of Nasiri’s brilliant students, a competent painter and printmaker, Director of Falun Graphic Center in Sweden, Saadon Fadhil, Iraqi art critic, May Muzaffar, Iraqi poet and art critic, in addition to a statement by the artist himself.
1 My Visual Resources: Place and Time between East and West
Amman, November 2010
2 Fifty Years in Printmaking – Interview with Rafa Nasiri
Amman, April 2013
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