The Nuova Galleria Morone is glad to present the first Italian solo exhibition of Iraqi artist Halim Al Karim, already selected for the last edition of the Venice Biennale and featured in the Iraq Pavilion.
In his works the artist represents his personal experiences during the first Gulf War.
His refusal to serve in Saddam’s army forced him to flee to the desert, where he lived for almost three years hidden in a hole in the ground, and survived through the assistance of a Bedouin woman who took care of him and taught him about nomadic customs and spiritual mysticism.
The experience of violence, the loss of freedom as well as the mystical tradition of Sufism, which highlights the individual and pure relationship with God and conscience, has affected his personal and artistic reflection.
Since 1985 Halim Al Karim has been developing in the "Hidden" series the concept of "al-Batin", one of the 99 names of Allah according to Islamic tradition. According to such philosophy, reciting the name "al-Batin" like a mantra one may achieve a state of grace when seeing the “truth in things". In his works one perceives the ideas of “hiding away”, of withdrawing, of isolation and solitude, as inner and cathartic moments in which memories are messed up and vanish. The medium of photography is deliberately chosen due to its immaterial qualities: a medium which literally creates an image of light capturing the transitory nature and interconnected with time and memory. In his series “Hidden Love” Halim Al Karim lights up all the nuances of the colour spectrum. He abstracts and spreads his artistic dogmas in this series of portraits, in which the artist invites us to mediate between the well-focused eyes and the blurred contours. Female faces are psychologically suspended between the tranquillity of their innocent beauty and the cathartic experience of the war. Remaining faithful to this formal concept, he creates purely anonymous portraits in contrast with well-known personalities of the Iraqi tradition, employing close-ups again featuring blurred contours, using silk to underline the element of uncertainty, which represents a transcendental portal into the subconscious, like in an inner vision, aiming at preserving humanity from the brutal acts of violence taking place in contemporary society.
Halim Al Karim was born in 1963 in Nafjat, Iraq.
He currently lives and works in Denver, United States and Dubai, UAE. In 2011 Halim was selected to represent Iraq at the Venice Biennale. His works have been showcased in spaces such as the Saatchi Gallery, London, UK; The Museum of Contemporary Art ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany; the XVA Gallery, Dubai, UAE: the Paul Klee Museum, Bern, Switzerland; and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, Colorado. Halim’s artwork is also part of numerous public collections including the Saatchi Gallery, London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, UK, the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, Texas, USA, The Royal Society of Fine Arts in Jordan, the Arabic Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar and the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA), in Paris, France, among others.