- Kadhim Hayder
- signed and dated K.Haidar 1969
- oil on canvas laid on board
- 90.8 by 121cm.; 35 3/4 by 47 5/8 in.
Thence by descent
Private Collection, Germany (acquired directly from the above in 2005)
for some years, ever since he painted a large number of pictures on
the martyrdom of Hussein at Karbala, but in a manner quite different
from that of Azzawi. For him the religious inspiration of Islam
comes through a sense of tragedy, in signs and symbols that he makes
his own; horses, helmets, swords, spears, men, women, tents, conspiracies, treacheries - the whole phantasmagoria of ancient battles in
a peculiarly personal idiom.
Jabra Ibrahim Jabra
Sotheby's is delighted to offer a rare work by the Iraqi modernist Kadhim Hayder. In 2011, the artist's most iconic work to appear on the market, The Martyr's Epic, was sold at Sotheby's London, setting at the time a record for the artist at auction. Throughout his oeuvre, Hayder pays a strong tribute to his homeland's cultural heritage, its iconic landscapes and particularly to his religious faith.
Kadhim Hayder alongside the members of the Iraqi Pioneer Group (Faiq Hassan and Mahmoud Sabry) in the 1950s challenged the set norms with the enthusiasm and idealism that this youth inspired at the time. A writer, a poet and an artist, Hayder painted in a range of styles, from the poetic landscapes of Iraq to abstract architectural forms, still life to figures. His work examines the good, the bad and the transitions in Iraq’s political environment from the 1950s to the 1960s (including the military-backed coup that toppled the monarchy in 1958). After obtaining his diploma from the Fine Arts Institute in 1957, he moved to London where he pursued his artistic exploration alongside lithography, theatre design and graphics at the Royal School of Art and Graphics. He returned to Iraq in 1962, founding the Department of Design at the Institute of Fine Arts and chairing its Visual Arts Department. Hayder participated in most of the Baghad “Salon” exhibitions of the Iraqi Artists Society from the 1950s up to the 1970s.
The present painting is a seminal example of Hayder's work from the 1960s. In the genre of Surrealist artists Max Ernst or Paul Klee, the painting is ostensibly abstract and architecturally mastered. The writer Nizar Saslim describes these series of architectural works by Kadhim Hayder as: “In all his abstract or tragic works, he always composed them on a theatrical construction, whether on lines depending on the imaginary dimensions of perspective or by divising the background areas of his topics into two segments within which he puts balances masses of pure theatrical movement.” (Nizar Selim, Iraqi Contemporary Art – Vol. 1, 1977, p. 80). With Untitled, The artist employs hidden narratives to convey his strong symbolism reflected in intricate grids fading in a red blood moon. An unnerving red moon is the only concrete residue of an architectural landscape that is deteriorating, a topical subject during a time of drastic social, political and religious change in Iraq. This blood moon, a depiction of the lunar eclipse, is symbolic of the fury of God in Quranic tradition, and a holy reminder of the Day of Judgement. Beneath this, in a town's colourful reflection, geometric shapes meet one another in fractious confluence. Hayder simultaneously captures a fragment of the roots of Islam as well as a characteristic of the Mesopotamian civilization. Ultimately, these allusions act as symbols for Iraq's sociopolitical history throughout the 1960s, while also making them relevant to today's struggles.