Re-Construction | Walid Siti at EOA.P London Gallery

Rebuilding Iraq

Restore the obliterated and rediscover what has been lost. These are the underlying themes in the practice of Kurdish-Iraqi artist Walid Siti. Presented at Edge of Arabia’s London gallery, in collaboration with Rose Issa projects, his solo show features meticulous mountain shaped structures on canvas, paper or as installations.
Evidently marked by decades of power struggles leading to the destruction of his native Iraq, Siti assumes the role of architect to rebuild a country referred to as cradle of civilizations. On a broader geographical scale, the artist hints at today’s reconstruction of Middle Eastern territories, following last century’s conflicts, past and ongoing.

While looking at Siti’s mounts, pyramids and Ziggurats, focusing on their peaks is unavoidable.  Beyond the desire to rebuild, the conical structures seem to mirror a Maslow pyramid, and the evolution of needs with each step of a country’s post conflict rise, from security to autonomy and personal achievement, to finally reach acceptance.

The setting of the exhibition - a converted ice storage warehouse - seems like a nod to Siti’s practice. One can envision cubes of ice piling up into heights in the former space, just like Siti’s structures do today.

Monument of a Forgotten Story

Duhok is where the mountains are

Ubiquitous in the artist’s practice, mountains trace back to his early years in the 1950’s, spent in the mounts-surrounded city of Duhok. After studies at the Institute of Fine arts in Baghdad, Siti trained as printmaker at Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts. Ever since his move to London in 1984, his focus has been on painting and installation.

Dialogue of Towers II

A world of black and white

Siti’s creations made of intersecting lines and curves grow into multidimensional designs of black and white. Purposely using these two antagonistic colors, the artist symbolizes clashes of fighting forces leading to deterioration.

In Dialogue Of Towers II, the gloomy sky surrounding the apex of a metallic tower, rising from the dark ground, seems threatening to unleash the next storm. Solitude and anguish can be felt in Monument Of A Forgotten Story, with nothingness oppressing a white structure. Next to it, a table shelters a large collection of small formats, with drawings, sketchbooks and miniature installations. The most striking piece is a large-scale installation of steps and ladders, leading once again to the top. Defying in its magnitude, the intricate assemblage reminds of the psychological and physical efforts of re-constituting a nation, an identity, a social well-being.

Mixing bad omens with hopeful aspirations, Siti’s works are a testimony of the sociological dilemmas in conflict countries, whose future is dauntingly uncertain. The otherworldly glow emanating from his pieces is paired with a cold one can almost feel on the skin. And a question lingers – what happens at the top, if ever, it is reached?

Re-Construction runs at EOA.P London Gallery till 23 August 2014

Photo credits
Images courtesy of EOA.Projects