Friday, January 29, 2010
This One's for the Ladies...
“Born in a land that is ironically the cradle of civilization and presently the ultimate embodiment of human degradation, Iraq, I have of necessity inherited a host of issues that find expression in my work. Female oppression, honor killings and war continue to claim my attention. Filled with desire, I paint for redemption and salvation, hoping one day humanity will witness a profound change.
Through an inherent childlike innocence in movement and form, in contrast with the harsh reality of war, these highly figurative yet two-dimensional personas represent the dichotomy of agony and gaiety, the duality of dreams and reality, peace and war. These surreal documentations of truth are the essence of my creative representation.
Sweeping the audience into the eyes of my characters while simultaneously inversing the scene into a celebration of the various cultures in our world, I endeavor to refocus the felt pain into an investment in the human capability to overcome and prevail.”
“Toilette” From the Domesticated Marionette Series
The series of paintings that really attracted my attention to her work, however, is one called “The Domesticated Marionette.” In keeping with her themes of cultural oppression and its dehumanizing influence, but less bloody and with a clear trend towards recovery, this series depicts women limited to the domestic sphere.
Untitled, From the Domesticated Marionette Series
“Ironing” From the Domesticated Marionette Series
“Cleaning Floors” From the Domesticated Marionette Series
To begin with, they are made of chunks of wood with rough, obvious joints; in images like “Ironing,” they are controlled from many places, their movements completely limited by a plethora of strings. By “Sewing,” she has not only lost many of those strings, she has also managed to negotiate one of her own, one under her control--and as in “Hanging Sheets” and “Pulling String,” she now has soft, alabaster flesh with graceful curving joints. It is interesting to note, however, that the last thing to go is the string holding up the mask--though she may have more freedom of motion, and though her sphere may now extend beyond the domestic, her personality and self-expression remain heavily guarded behind the image of what “should be.”
“Sewing” From the Domesticated Marionette Series
“Hanging Sheets” From the Domesticated Marionette Series
(*Note: I’ve nothing but my sweet little heart to tell me that this is the order she means for them to go in.)
On her blog, which unfortunately has not been updated in years, Hayv describes the thoughts that went into another interesting painting of hers, “Justitia.” This painting appears heavily influenced by the ancient Chinese scroll paintings, from its top-to-bottom story-telling to the pose of its central character, to the shape of the clouds:
Justitia (please press for larger image with details)
“Depictions of Lady Justice dates back to antiquity. She is a symbol of the moral and equal force of the legal system. Without corruption, prejudice or favor she is depicted with her eyes covered so that she cannot be influenced by the identity, power or weakness of the individual being judged. In her left hand she holds scales that weigh the evidence against the applicable laws representing fairness and balance. In her right hand she holds a sword symbolizing the power
that is held by those making the decision and enforcing Justice. In the painting lady Justitia is not blind folded. She is holding uneven scales and instead of a sword she holds a limited number of gas masks all implying the corruption of today’s society. Justitia with her cunning eyes is helping the unjust. The black winged angles represent the leaders of the world’s nations.”
But again, there is in her art, juxtaposed with the negative influences of politicians and oppressive traditions, the graceful and the mystical, and its miraculous ability to overcome all evil.
I leave you with a painting of gorgeous emotion, “Mevlevi Sema.” It depicts three graceful, birdlike women practicing the traditionally male Sufi Whirling. This continuous whirling is a hypnotic meditation and prayer using the full body through which a Sufi Dervish loses his ego, letting it drop away entirely, and focuses only on God. In her version, the three women, now completely free of the social restrictions that once kept them dressed a certain way (for example, every inch covered), and confined to the home, are spinning, spinning in a dance of freedom by which they are overcoming one final restriction, that of the body over the spirit. Hayv paired the painting with the following poem by Mevlana Jalalu'ddin Rumi:
“I am a bird of the heavenly garden
I belong not to the earthly sphere
They have made for two or three days
a cage of my body."
(Please click on the photo to take a closer look. Hint: notice their feet...)
Born 1981 in Baghdad Iraq, Hayv now lives and works in Phoenix, AZ. Her website is fantastic.
(Discovered via Phantasmaphile....)