Fateh al-Moudarres: Colour, Extensity and Sense

Past Exhibition

Fateh al-Moudarres: Colour, Extensity and Sense presents a revisionist lens into the studio practice of the influential modernist Syrian artist.

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Deliberately organized as a thematic slice, this exhibition examines al-Moudarres’s works within the context of his creative engagements with two disparate yet interconnected pathways: Surrealism and Sufism. Illuminating the value that resides within the absent, hidden or the unseen, al-Moudarres’s works can be read as a unique mixture of these two movements, in which he is viewed as a transcultural artist working within the context of global Surrealism, a truly international intellectual movement, which transcended the Occidental and Oriental worlds. 

On view are a selection of paintings from the late 1950s through to the 1990s that reveal a cross circulation of ideas and forms that seek to locate the origin of truth. Presenting a highly emotional artistic journey, al-Moudarres’s artworks employ an interlacing study that borrows from abstract, conceptual and philosophical thinking to create a rich illustration of both personal and sociopolitical histories. 

What emerges is a cross-circulation dialogue about the role of antiquity in modern Syria, the shift from the rural to the urban built environment, and wider regional events during the 1960s, a period of radical local and global political and social change. These historical moments and external influences are pivotal to the understanding of the intricate elements presented in al-Moudarres’s deeply sympathetic works, which in retrospective terms continue to resonate in light of the current and complex geopolitical realities of present day Syria.

Curated by: Sara Raza

Artist Bio

Fateh Al-Moudarres (1922 Aleppo - 1999 Damascus) is a pioneer of Syrian modern and contemporary art. Known for a visual language that emphasised civic responsibility, Al-Moudarres’s work touched on themes of kinship, social deprivation, modernisation and rural society. His unique figurative style displayed a connection to human suffering and tragedy, while his more symbolic paintings of the land referenced ancient tradition and heritage combined with personal and subjective memories.

Al-Moudarres studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome from 1954 - 1960. Following a teaching position at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus between 1962 and 1969, he pursued postgraduate studies in Paris, before returning to Syria in 1972. Al-Moudarres cultivated strong connections with both European and Middle Eastern peers; he took part of major international exhibitions, including the Cairo Biennial and Sao Paulo Biennale for example. His work made a lasting contribution to the development of contemporary painting in the region.