"Influenced by the great poet Mahmoud Darwish", the Iraqi artist presents a group of paintings drawn by his magical fingers in the "Art Scene Gallery" exhibition in Gemmayzeh area in Beirut, starting from October 20, 2022.
“ And I am the country that came… And reincarnated me…And I, The continuous departure to the country… Found myself full of myself “
Born in 1968 in Baghdad, Iraq, Riyad Ne’mah received his B.A. in Fine Arts with a specialization in Painting from his home country in 1992. Ne’mah belongs to a generation of visual artists that expressed their talent amidst fear, suffering and political turmoil. His journey as an artist began with the rise of Saddam Hussein’s rule, during his attempted totalitarian control of Iraq. This dramatic period of the country’s history was filled with oppression and hatred, especially towards those who challenged the regime. The artists at the time formed an insightful and powerful movement of contemporary Iraqi art and strove for creative liberation. Riyad Ne’mah’s art depicts overwhelming contrasts of color, where lines are sharp and random, and where the paint is essentially lyrical. His abstract and erratic canvases are like songs, and his dynamic brushwork, somber palette and anonymous subjects evoke a self-reflection and lost childhood. With his range of eerie, implicit narratives, he tells the tale of his nation, fragmented by isolation and a confused political situation. In the whirlwind of suffering and loss, Ne’mah rediscovers identity and brings humanity back to life through paint.
Riyad is a storyteller, driven by a deep sense of humanity. Cautiously, he watches his ‘heroes’, some of them are marginal, oblivious of their surroundings, others express cautious awakening despite their devious looks. This crowd of heroes are the elements Riyad uses to build his worlds. Out of them, he creates a carnival of colours with swift gestures, portraying sensitive relationships that belong to the characters, beautifying his canvases with their own unique vitality.
Riyad’s interests have varied through the years, yet harsh surroundings have not affected his integrity. Marginal temptations have not chipped away at his soul, whilst he has remained aware of political and social sensitivities.
Absent friends passed like caravans, ships sailed without them, the longing for return in their eyes, as they faded into memory, and infused his rich layers of paint with anxiety. Their faces are covered with dirt from a remote Iraq, after they crossed borders, barriers to forbidden things, and punished by the insults of secret police.
Riyad’s worlds are like sealed boxes, veiling thought, hinting at a hidden Truth; yet certainty remains elusive. There is someone who knows how he counts his days lost between his Iraq and subsequent years of exile. But who is it?
He listens to the music of colours without rest, conjuring painted poetry out of silence to guide us; our eyes become lanterns which illuminate a path through a chaotic world.