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M AY S A L O U N FA R A J Ceramics


M AY S A L O U N FA R A J Ceramics


4 . MAYSALOUN FARAJ CERAMICS

“In clay, I bond with cathartic earth, to heal and be healed, craving serenity and order in restiveness and chaos.” On the occasion of the exhibition Word into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East (British Museum 2006 / DIFC Dubai 2008), about the participation of Maysaloun Faraj, curator Venetia Porter writes: “The British Museum is fortunate to have examples of the work of Maysaloun Faraj as part of its collection of modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art. In both subject matter and the very materials themselves, Maysaloun’s ceramics and paintings connects her utterly to her native Iraq. As with so many Iraqi artists, the pain of recent events makes a clear mark on her work. For the exhibition Word into Art we chose History in Ruins, a ceramic work that was like a folding book, the pieces tied with raffia. On both sides is text in horizontal rows hinting at some ancient writing tradition: on a cylinder seal or a Mesopotamian clay tablet. The words themselves are poignant: on one side prayers and the word limadha ‘why?’ repeated. On the other, verses by the Iraqi poet and political activist Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri (d. 1997) from Ya Dijlat al-Khayr ‘O Blessed Tigris’ which he wrote in exile in 1962 and

History in Ruins . Earthstone and raffia 30x60cm 2005 Collection British Museu

“From the land between the two rivers, I pick up in my minds eye the remnants o an act of healing and hope. I stand them tall and proud, like an open gate, defian


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um (Brooke Sewell Permanent Fund)

of pages from an ancient past scripted on clay tablets, where man first recorded his deeds and victories, and recreate my own. I ‘sew’ them together in nt and dignified like our precious date palms, like our people, like our spirit. Our history, ‘world’ history, is in ruins; shattered and burnt to the ground.”


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“It is in the fertile land between the two rivers Dijla and Furat; Mesopotamia, where my story with ‘earth’ begins.”

which include words which resonate powerfully today: ‘Oh blessed Tigris what inflames your heart inflames me and what grieves you makes me grieve; oh wanderer, play with a gentle touch… that you may soothe a volcano seething with rage and pacify a heart burning with pain’. Maysaloun has returned with this exhibition to her paintings and her pottery, a great achievement, which once again powerfully evokes the spirit of Iraq. There are pots and ceramic sculptures with their characteristic chalky white surfaces and an occasional black velvet-like interior and applied Arabic texts as well as vibrant paintings. They testify to an energy and dedication that is demonstrated in everything that she does.”

“It is in the fertile land between the two rivers Dijla and Furat, Mesopotamia, where my story with ‘earth’ begins. I studied Architectural Engineering at Baghdad University (1973-78) and ceramics was an important part of the curriculum.

Growing up between the USA where she was born (1955); Baghdad where she studied Architecture and London where she has lived and worked (since 1982), contributed fundementally to shaping her artistic output. With emphasis on cultural heritage, Faraj’s work contemplates the intersection of place and identity, spanning both her roots and contemporary perspectives.

Growing up in Baghdad during the 1970s, I would make countless visits to the Iraq Museum, drawing immense inspiration from its collections many of which were looted or destroyed in the aftermath of war on Iraq. I would spend hours drawing the clay figurines, pottery and artifacts on display, reading and learning about each and every piece. My interest in history and the stories that contribute

In 1982 I left Baghdad for London; besides painting, clay became my primary choice of expression. Architectural discipline informs my aesthetics as I explore the complex dynamics between overarching societal concerns and the intimate, often pondering on spirituality and the transience of human existence. It is this tension between opposites that I find captivating and intriguing.

Tomorrow My Heart Will Heal . Earthstone and Velvet Glaze 30x19x10cm 2008


8 . MAYSALOUN FARAJ CERAMICS

“I aim to produce innovative work that celebrates thoughts, influences and conversations, current yet stretching as far back as time itself.”

to shaping an era, through art, started early. From Uruk’s cylinder seals Islam’s calligraphy and geometric pattern, Sonia Delaunay’s Orphisim and Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematism, to Richard Serra’s Snake, Gordon Baldwin’s Seferis and Zaha Hadid’s commanding architecture, I draw inspiration. I hand-build with coils and slabs using grogged clay to facilitate larger forms and fire in an electric kiln at 1000C for bisque, 1160C for earthenware and 1260C for stoneware. Surfaces are often left unglazed or partly glazed, occasionally applying velvets, oxides or lusters and gold in further firing at 750C. I aim to produce innovative work that celebrates thoughts, influences and conversations, current yet stretching as far as time itself. Having left Iraq, a land in which I am deeply rooted, it is humanity and the human condition that concerns me with an inner compulsion to explore identity shaped by displacement, conflict, war, injustice, human rights, human wrongs, and beauty lost.”


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Yal’li Imdha’i Wattan ‘He Who Has Lost His Homeland’ Boats and Burdens . Earthstone and Velvet Glazes 25x55x10cm 2009


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Deceit . Earthstone Acrylic and gold 39x27x12cm 2008 (LEFT) Salamun Aleika ‘Peace be Upon You’ . Earthstone, glaze and gold 9x40(d)cm 2008 (ABOVE)


12 . MAYSALOUN FARAJ CERAMICS

Munajat I . Earthstone, glaze and gold 11x46(d)cm 2008 (ABOVE) Aziza al-Baghdadia . White earthenware, turqoise glaze and cobalt oxides 40cm (height) 2008 (RIGHT)


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Munajat II . Earthstone, glaze and gold 14x39(d)cm 2008 (ABOVE) Golden Boat Boats and Burdens . Earthstone, glaze and gold 27x35cm 2008 (LEFT)


Baghdad I Boats and Burdens . Earthstone and Black Velvet 35x45x9cm 2008


18 . MAYSALOUN FARAJ CERAMICS

Munajat III . Earthstone, glaze and gold 14x40(d)cm 2008 (ABOVE) Al-Mussa’wir ‘The Shaper of Beauty’ Asma Allah al-Husna . Earthstone 69x21x9cm 2008 (LEFT)


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Al-Melik Al-Qud’dous ‘The King, The Holy’ Asma Allah al-Husna Earthstone, glaze and gold 12x49(d)cm 2008 (ABOVE) Embrace: Al-Samee’ ‘The All Hearing’ Asma Allah al-Husna . Earthstone and velvet 48x19cm 2008 (LEFT)


22 . MAYSALOUN FARAJ CERAMICS

Ain al-Hassoud ‘Eye of Envy’ . Earthstone, glaze and gold 30x26cm 2000 (ABOVE) Embrace: Al-Raz’zaq ‘The Ever Providing’ Asma Allah al-Husna . Earthstone and velvet 55x18cm 2008 (RIGHT)


Ainaki Ghabeta Nekheel II Boats and Burdens . Earthstone, amber and gold 29x40x10cm 2008


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Golden Bird Boats and Burdens . Earthstone, glaze and gold 24x20cm 2008 (ABOVE) Allah Nour al-Samawat wal-Ardh ‘God is the Light of the Skies and Earth’ . Earthstone and gold 32x20x10cm 2008 (LEFT)


28 . MAYSALOUN FARAJ CERAMICS

Pots of Baraka . Earthstone, glaze, oxides and gold 35x35X35Wcm 1993 (ABOVE) Golden Boat Boats and Burdens . Earthstone, glaze and gold 27x35cm 2008 (LEFT)


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Al-Mutekeb’bir ‘The Tremendous’ Asma Allah al-Husna Earthstone and gold 18x25(d)cm 2007 (ABOVE) Ainaki Ghabeta Nakheel I ‘Your Eyes Are Two Palm Forests’ . Earthstone glaze and gold 42x32x7cm 2008 (LEFT)


32 . MAYSALOUN FARAJ CERAMICS

Amulet I . Earthstone, rough glaze and oxide 27X24x15cm 1994 (ABOVE) Gates of Peace . Earthstone, rough glaze and oxide 35x25x15cm 2004 (LEFT)


Amulet II . Earthstone, rough glaze and oxide 35x25x15cm 1994


36 . MAYSALOUN FARAJ CERAMICS

Letter from a Burning City . Earthstone, glaze and gold 27x28cm 2004 (ABOVE) Pots for Peace I . Earthstone, glaze and gold 25x25(d)cm 2008 (LEFT)


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Amulet III . Earthstone & gold 24X20X10cm 1994 (ABOVE) Ghalia Dem’at Um Abbass ‘ Precious Um Abbass’s Tear’ Boats and Burdens . Earthstone & gold 47x23x20cm 2006 (LEFT)


40 . MAYSALOUN FARAJ CERAMICS

Al-Fat’tah ‘The Opener’ Asma Allah al-Husna . Earthstone, glaze, oxides and gold 5x27(d)cm 2007 (ABOVE) Um Abbass and Abu Abbass . Earthstone 43x19cm 2003 (RIGHT)


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Al-Mutekeb’bir ‘The Tremendous’ Asma Allah al-Husna . Earthstone and gold 18x25(d)cm 2007 (ABOVE) Boats for Peace . Earthstone 49x46x10cm 2007 ( LEFT)


MAYSALOUN FARAJ AT PUTNEY SCHOOL OF ART 2016


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Ceramist, Painter and Sculptor,

Maysaloun Faraj grew up between the USA, Baghdad, Paris and London. With an aesthetic informed by architectural discipline, Faraj draws on her mixed heritage, articulating a complex web of references bridging east and west, ancient and contemporary. Oscillating between 2-dimensional painting and 3-dimensional sculpture, her visual vocabulary explores the dynamics between overarching societal concerns and the highly intimate, often pondering on ‘spirituality’ and the transience of human existence. Her work is in notable public collections including the British Museum, Rotterdam Wereld Museum, National Museum for Women in the Arts (USA), Jordan National Museum (Amman), Barjeel Art Foundation (UAE), Al-Mansouria Foundation (Paris), Aga Khan Foundation (Canada) and important others as well as esteemed private collections including Hussain Ali Harba, Hasanain Ibrahimi, Ali Husri and the late Basil al-Rahim. Besides her own artwork, Faraj initiated and lead a multi-faceted project to bring the works of Iraqi artists to the fore; Strokes of

Genius: Contemporary Iraqi Art (1995-2003). Supported by Arts Council England, this comprised a ground-breaking UK-USA exhibition tour, the first ever website to collectively feature the works of Iraqi artists world-wide and a seminal publication of which she is editor. In 2002, she co-founded Aya Gallery, London with her husband, the renowned architect Ali Mousawi, curating important exhibitions with focus on modern and contemporary art from Iraq and in 2008 was invited to serve as a judge for the first Arab Art and Culture Award in the UK. After years dedicated to bringing Iraqi Art to the fore, gaining the interest of world museums, collectors and international auction houses, she decided that time was due to focus back on her own art. This culminated in the solo exhibition Boats and Burdens: Kites and Shattered Dreams 2009, which was inaugurated by Venetia Porter, curator of Modern Middle East at the British Museum followed by residencies at the Cité International des Arts in Paris during 2015/17/18. Maysaloun Faraj lives and works in London.


MAYSALOUN FARAJ INFO@MFARAJ.COM WWW.MFARAJ.COM


MAYSALOUN FARAJ INFO@MFARAJ.COM WWW.MFARAJ.COM

Profile for MF Studio

CERAMICS | Maysaloun Faraj  

This collection features selected ceramics by Maysaloun Faraj; oIraq's leading female sculptural ceramic artist today. Ceramist, Painter an...

CERAMICS | Maysaloun Faraj  

This collection features selected ceramics by Maysaloun Faraj; oIraq's leading female sculptural ceramic artist today. Ceramist, Painter an...

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