Kuwaiti artist Ghadah Al Kandari's works range from colourful and brash like portraits to extremely simple black and white drawings. The commonality between her painting and drawings are her subjects – all are relatives depicted in off-beat domestic settings which hint toward family dynamics and the relationships between the individuals. Her works are portrayed in varying tone – some sentimental, sad, happy, at times comical. Al Kandari’s paintings inhabit a naivety to them, while the drawings reference a rival of drawing as a prime artistic meaning.
Iraqi artist Hayv Kahraman's highly graphic drawings depict the ravaging effects of war, which always affect women the hardest. Using Sumi ink on brown paper, Hayv's wide stylistic references range from Japanese and Arabic calligraphy art nouveau, Persian miniature and Greek iconography. Her impeccable illustrative renderings create stunning but also unsettling, minutely detailed image which prevent us from looking away from tragedies such as rape and honour killings, forcing us to reflect on things that we would otherwise refuse to see.
Whereas Hayv prevents us from looking away because of the intricacies and the details, Emarati artists Lamya Gargash catches our curious gaze by omitting vital information from the female form. Gargash’s video portraits highlight the awkward space between the garment and the body by manipulating two comparative images – one displayed with only the garment in view, the other with only the body in view, questioning society’s perceived understanding of female representation.
Iranian artist Neda Hadizadeh paints fragmented figurative works with vibrant brush strokes and strong black lines. Dripping, figurative outlines are placed on a background of colour, usually contain the model’s fingers or bony hands covering or concealing segments of the figure. Her work depicts the human form with angst and psychological drama in a dark and unsettling manner.
The four artists in Life Drawing all use figure as the starting point to explore different ideas. Their work acknowledges the history, theory and weight of the figure as subject and they explicitly employ it as a point of comparison and conjunction. By employing different mediums to display this traditional form of art, the artists highlight issues close to the heart such as war, torture, love, family and tradition. Life Drawing highlights not only the diverse manner in which these four artists approach the subject of the figure, but also examines the connections between their practices.