Kadhim Hayder (Iraq, 1932-1985) Divine Horses (From the Marty's Epic)

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Lot 13
Kadhim Hayder
(Iraq, 1932-1985)
Divine Horses (From the Marty's Epic)

Sold for £ 250,062 (US$ 325,317) inc. premium
Kadhim Hayder (Iraq, 1932-1985)
Divine Horses (From the Marty's Epic)
oil on canvas, framed
signed (lower left), executed in 1965
70 x 100cm (27 9/16 x 39 3/8in).

Footnotes

  • DIVINE HORSES (1965) / APPROACHING OBLIVION (1984)
    TWO HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT WORKS BY KADHIM HAYDER FROM HIS ARTISTIC PRIME AND THE END OF HIS LIFE INCLUDING A MAJOR PAINTING FROM THE 1965 MARTYR'S EPIC

    "A elegiac tone has marked the work of Kadhim Hayder
    for some years, ever since he painted a large number of pictures on
    the martyrdom of Hussein at Karbala, but in a manner quite different
    from that of Azzawi. For him the religious inspiration of Islam
    comes through a sense of tragedy, in signs and symbols that he makes
    his own; horses, helmets, swords, spears, men, women, tents, conspiracies, treacheries - the whole phantasmagoria of ancient battles in
    a peculiarly personal idiom.

    Man defiant though prisoner, though martyred and quartered;
    such has been his theme for a long time, partly derived from Arab
    history as he understands it, where much of his modern vision is
    rooted. But Kadhim Hayder has also employed his style in telling of
    man in search of himself, in search of love, in search of wonder.,
    He unabashedly mixes the figurative with the abstract, but having
    devised a vocabulary of distinctly personal forms, the mixture serves
    his purpose well, when figure and abstract seem to exchange function
    and complement one another very much as in Sumerian art.

    His Buraq is thus in part the horse of the Prophet's night journey, and in
    part the soul's journey through the dark blues of man's endless night
    of mystery."
    - Jabra Ibrahim Jabra

    Provenance:
    Property from the collection of a prominent academic, Paris,
    Acquired directly from the artist by the above, who was a colleague of Kadhim Hayder at the Academy of Fine Arts Baghdad, 1970's

    Exhibited:
    The Marty's Epic, Kadhim Hayder, Baghdad National Museum, 1965
    The Marty's Epic, Kadhim Hayder, Sursock Museum, Beirut 1965

    Published:
    Fanoon Tashkili, Beirut, 1965

    THE PRESENT WORK
    "I learnt from Hussain how to achieve victory while being oppressed"
    - Mahatma Gandhi

    Vigorous, dynamic and intense, "Divine Horses" is a seminal work by one of Iraq's most enigmatic modern artists, Kadhim Hayder. Part of the artists major body of work, known as the "Marty's Epic", the present painting was presented at the artists landmark shows in the National Museum of Modern Art in Baghdad and then in Beirut in 1965. Being offered in the market for the first time, the work comes from the prestigious private collection of one of Hayder's colleagues at the Baghdad Faculty of fine Arts.

    Kadhim Hayder was a master of weaving symbolism, poetic allegory and abstraction into compositions that were predominantly narrative in subject matter. As a poet, he had a lifelong fascination with the Shi'ite epic of the Martyrdom of Imam Hussein and this episode forms the subject matter of his most significant body of work, "The Epic of the Martyr" which was exhibited in 1965 at the National Museum of Modern Art. A popular subject in Shi'ite folklore, the story of Hussein's martyrdom has been a subject of both art and popular religious expression for centuries

    The present work must therefore be understood in reference to Hayder's wider cycle of works dealing with the battle of Karbala; the white horses of Imam Hussein are seen mourning the death of their Martyr beneath an ominous moon. Aesthetically rich, Hayder's horses cluster together in overlapping shapes which evoke the anthropomorphised behaviour of their mourning.

    Kadhim Hayder studied literature at the Higher Institute for Teachers; in 1957 he earned a diploma from the Institute of Fine Arts. Between 1959 and 1962 he studied theatre design at the Central College of the Arts in London. Upon returning to Iraq, he taught at the Institute of Fine Arts, opening a department of design. He continued to teach at the Academy of Fine Arts, when it replaced the Institute of Fine Arts; his book al-Takhtit wa Elwan (Sketching and Colours) became standard reading for students there. In 1971 he organized a group called the Academicians, based on an exhibition and around a text he wrote reclaiming a Platonic notion of the academy as a way to relate the different arts to each other, and to the arts of the past. He served as president of the Union of Iraqi Artists, the Union of Arab Artists, and the Society of Iraqi Plastic Artists.

    Hayder began showing work while he was still a student, at a number of collective exhibitions held at Nadi al-Mansur, the major exhibition space in Baghdad during the 1950s. When his work and that of other young artists was rejected for exhibition at Nadi al-Mansur in 1958, he organized a counter-exhibition of the rejected. He also displayed his work at Al-Wasiti Gallery in Baghdad in 1964, and in 1965 he exhibited the series The Epic of the Martyr at the National Museum of Modern Art. Selected works from the series were subsequently shown in Beirut, both on their own, and as a prominent part of a collective exhibition of work by Iraqi artists at the Sursock Museum, a show that toured a number of European capitals under the sponsorship of the Gulbenkian Foundation.

    His work was included in many major exhibitions throughout the 1970s, such as the First Arab Biennale, Baghdad, 1974; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1976; and the International Art Exhibition for Palestine held in Beirut, 1978. In 1984 he held a final solo show at the Iraqi Cultural Centre in London. His work was quickly acquired by private collectors, and thus it is only in recent years that it has entered public collections beside that of the Museum of Modern Art in Baghdad, such as that of the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah, and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Arab Art in Doha.
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