Summer in the City

This summer, Baker Street becomes the newest hub for an exciting variety of art in London. Featuring a wide variety of artists selected for their originality and skill, there’s something for everyone at Hay Hill Gallery: fantastical painters such as Peter Blum, David Bowers and Lilia Mazurkevich; smokily atmospheric paintings from Jones Keyworth and Sveta Yavorsky; the geometric designs of Robert Walsh and Marek Dutka.

Well-known names include MacAlpine Miller, P.J. Crook, ilia Petrovic and Oleg Prokofiev, alongside up-and-coming artists such as Sopho, Ash and Kenneth Whyte. While there is not an overarching theme, it does appear that each artist presents their own window on the world, making the gallery walls into a shape-shifting kaleidoscope of ideas and personal histories.

This is also a chance to see works by Ala Bashir before his solo exhibition at Hay Hill Gallery next year. The artist was born in Iraq in 1939, eighteen years after his country declared independence from Britain. As an artist and physician, Bashir was not only part of Saddam Hussein’s medical team, but once his reluctant confidant too. The resultant works from this period are given shocking context by Saddam’s remark that they would be ‘a record of Iraq at (that) point in history’.

Bashir’s style is easily comparable to that of the surrealists, yet these nightmarish visions are not dreams- they depict the very real suffering he was witnessing daily. Unexpected directions in style often make his work difficult to decipher, whilst recurring signs such as the raven and the mask draw directly from traditional Iraqi imagery. Abstract backgrounds eat into the figurative, bricks fuse with skin, snakes fall like entrails from rotting apples. These tortured forms metamorphose into each other, contorted with pain. Bashir paints with great compassion from the devastating perspective of the Iran-Iraq war. Having formerly pioneered techniques for reattaching severed hands, this artist-surgeon now attempts to reconnect the eyes with the heart.

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