The Changing forest of Suad AlAttar
الغابة المتغيرة لسعاد العطار

Suad Al -Attar was born in Baghdad She has exhibited widely in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world, This exhibition includes a substantial group new works, made in London where thc artist now lives. Since the 1960's Suad Al-Attar has looked consistently to the  artistic traditions Of her own country as sources of imagery. There are echoes in her garden landscapes Of stylised forms in Assyrian reliefs, and of Medieval Baghdadi painting. A recurrent image in her paintings is the silhouetle of palm trees against the sky. The palm tree ,the peacock and the horseman, persistent motifs in Suad At-Attar's work, refer to range of associations. particularly within the context of Arab poetry and Iraqi folklore.

The recent works fall into two linked kinds— those paintings which draw on formalized and intensely colored pattern, and pictures where a use is made of a more naturalistic, if illusory, sense of light and space. Her central theme that of a dream-like paradise garden scattered with brightly plumed birds, lends itself to both treatments. In the garden paintings here there is a correspondence of patterns and lines, in the veins of a  single leaf, in the web of twigs and branches which are a tree, in the configuration of lines, shapes and colours which make up the surface of her canvasses. She frequently uses fine brushes, applying layers of colour. Sometimes linear pattern is scraped into the surface. The picture space appears full of incident – here a brilliant bird, there blossom, or a caparisoned horse, or a patterned border – but her concern with minute detail is balanced by a delicate sense of overall pictorial design. Look at the bird forms for instance. They are a favourite device. They are not scattered randomly. They define the rhythm of the compositions. The eye is led always inwards, towards the heart of the picture.

Like the hunters in Suad Al-Attar’s paintings, we become searchers within the imagined spaces of her pictures, pursuing something which is beyond our reach. It may be of happiness that the birds sing. These are ambiguous paintings. Perhaps most haunting are the moonlight and twilight landscapes. They suggest places on the borders of dream and reality, happiness and sorrow – places inside the mind, where memory and observation connect.

Caroline Collier

Attached is the PDF of the full article , another article in Gilgamesh Magazine and below a link to her page on our website :

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