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Uruk Midday - Saadeh George

Saadeh George

During my visual art practice, and after my voluntary exile to the UK, I had been exploring mythology and in particular that of Mesopotamia. Having been born in Iraq, but not knowing it (due to family moving to other locations after one year), it helped to connect me with roots and to explore issues of identity and displacement. Working on 2 series of prints: one on a theme of “Jardins d’Uruk” and the second on “The Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld”, it was also a psychic journey through the pleasant and the dark bits of living in an idyllic time and place, later torn by the savagery of war…. Both are a series of etchings,
collagraphs and monotypes.
Anslem Kiefer says: “The power of art…” helps myth “to transcend its origins and give
expression to the spiritual plight of humanity…” History and myth may become inseparable
but art redeems both. Archetypes and crude instincts dressed up in trimmings of civilization
seep through our consciousness into an act of creativity by a manipulative process of free
association. The subject matter carries the theme of human suffering from an individual
instant to the universal one, transcending location and moment. The subject matter is
figurative and narrative like those storytelling times in childhood. Memories are enhanced
with new reflective and meditative qualities.
What makes me do it is the knowledge of that part of the world, its history (past and
current), its ancient landscape and personal memories. There is an insight into its
challenging turbulence as well as a theatrical element but also a child-like playful quality
about the images. The innocence and magic are ever present.
Printmaking for me is a seductive and absorbing process that takes me on an indirect
internal journey of meditation through hours of preparing the plate and reflecting on the image and its different possible transformation as well as the surface used to print them. The conscious and unconscious flow in and out of each other like a river in daylight and darkness.
The initial idea is usually primeval such a flight of fantasy or even a small doodle, inspired by images from ancient archeological images! On its way, the idea collects traces of memory, essence of a place, a certain time or event, emerging into new combinations, layers or juxtapositions of several ideas and detailed images. Color adds associated moods, emotions and feelings. In the 1990s, I was making my own hand-made paper to print on, which gave the prints a quasi-primitive and ancient feel to the work.
Hence the image in the end resembles nothing and everything like a magical mélange of
“dreamscapes”.
Each print acquires a life of its own with subtle differences in detail and clearer color
distinctions.

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