Review
February
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February 2012
MANAMA
CAPITAL OF
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2012
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Selected works from the
38th Annual Fine Arts Exhibition
35 years of undercover Surrealism
DALARNAS. Modhir Ahmed is prolific. The ambitious
exhibition at Dalarnas Museum entitled MODHIR AHMED:
35 Years Retrospective curated by Anne Seppanen
presents the Iraqi-Swedish artist raising the flag for
autonomy and the integral presence of the work of art.
The show opens an entire field of work and associations
that are indispensable for a full understanding of the
Ahmedís practice which began with the true origins of his
aesthetic that may be traced back to Iraq, the artistís
motherland where significant intellectual bohemianism
flourished during the 60s up until the late 70s.
The exhibition was opened by Bjorn Bredstrom, Ahmedís
first employer and friend, who came all the way from
Boras to share his recollection of the artist who moved to
Sweden 24 years ago. It was attended by officials from
the culture department, artists, art lovers, family and
friends from all over Sweden, his adoptive country where
he began his professional career in the late 80s after
graduating at Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts in Poland. 
The display in the exhibition rooms is a testimony to
Ahmedís ambivalent attitude towards hanging where
communication between various series where of the
utmost importance. The excellent lighting conditions in
the museum emphasized that Ahmed had gone out of his
way to ensure that they effectively captured the physical
traces of the paintings, graphics, objects, and
environments.
His student works from the 70s and 80s may seem
behind us, but seeing it for the first time seems very
recent, his ďSelf-portraitĒ 1976 (woodcut), has been
mistaken as his sonís portrait because for decades that
has passed it has been Ahmedís steadfast mission to
hold it up.  The early figurative works demonstrate his
representational style and introduce characteristics that
mark his later work. Eighty per cent of the exhibition is
never-before-seen paintings, drawings, and prints reveal
the artistís arrival at characteristics of Abstraction,
Minimalism and undercover Surrealism.
There is a dramatic expansion of scale in his works on
paper from his works from the 2000s which shows all the
possibilities of gestural abstraction: furious traces of
paint from the brushy strokes and doodles layered over
the base woodcut.
But what's most exciting - are his new pieces - objects
which could be said in a way are the abstract versions of
Dubuffetí. Ahmedís version of minimalism  inhabit a
special twilight zone like the hanging pipes -metal pipe, a
length of wire and shadow; one created by the light and
the other is drawn line on paper replicating the shadow -
more like a revelation of the artistís technical proclivity.
In tracing Modhir Ahmedís progress, this exhibition
makes it clear that in recent years the artist turned his
effort towards what seem relevant and contemporary. It
will be exciting to see what new developments will result
from the impetus of this exhibition.
For now, the department of culture has a five-month
workshop at the museum for 500 children ages 10 from
various schools in the county to investigate Ahmedís light
and space installation.
- Svea von Sydow
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Photos courtesy of Thomas Dalarud