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Tag: Qais Al-Sindy

Bridging Worlds: The Art of Qais Al-Sindyor

Al Sindy Photo

This article was originally published by the Chaldean News a few days ago. It’s about Qais Al-Sindy, one of the artists in my upcoming book, The Lives of the Artists.  http://www.chaldeannews.com/bridging-worlds-the-art-of-qais-al-sindy/

Chaldean Qais Al-Sindy studied engineering at the University of Baghdad and though he excelled in his classes, he soon discovered that the field was not for him. After graduating, he applied to the Academy of Fine Arts, telling the administration, “If you force me to be a Baathist, I will study outside this country and you will lose me.”

It worked. They made an exception to Al-Sindy’s non-Baathist affiliation and enrolled him. In 2004, he graduated with an MFA from the Academy of Fine Arts. His thesis was on Christian paintings from all over Iraq. This led him to take a big tour of Iraq to visit all the monasteries and different cities from Zakho (in the Kurdisan region) to al-Faw (a marshy region in the extreme southeast of Iraq).

“It was dangerous to travel, especially since I did not have a sponsor,” he said. “I paid from my own pockets and drove my own car. Because I speak English very well, I managed well at American checkpoints. I received harassment from the insurgents and extremists, but at that time, it wasn’t very severe. I managed, but I did leave the country shortly after graduating.”

Al-Sindy, who began painting at age 14, has held art exhibits all over the world. His work has drawn so much attention that six books have been published about it by various venues, including the Kuwait Cultural Center and the Iraqi Cultural Center in Washington, D.C.

“I don’t do anything else in this world except for art,” said Al-Sindy, who resides in California. “If you are able to do the art that you like and find a way to sell it, this means that you believe in yourself.”

Al-Sindy, whose work includes painting, videos and installations of objects designed to make a point, is known to engage audiences in his art. An example of this is the “Mamdooh” series.

“After I left Iraq, I lived in Jordan, where I taught art in the architectural department,” he said. “One day I heard that one of my dearest friends in Iraq, a talented portrait artist named Mamdooh, suffered injuries as a result of a car explosion that injured and killed many people. He was transferred to the hospital where he struggled against death for one week, then died.”

This led Al-Sindy to do a series of four paintings. The first one is a portrait of Mamdooh in an expressionist style that focuses on his appearance. The second is a ghostly figure with transparency like his character, full of hue colors. It is the moment that Mamdooh suffers and dies. In the third painting, he brought some ashes and charcoal from the ruins of the car that exploded and drew Mamdooh using those ashes. That means Mamdooh is gone. The fourth painting is a pure blank canvas.

“Everyone is well aware that it’s prohibited to touch the artwork in galleries and museums,” Al-Sindy said. “But in this, I came up with something new to complete the fourth painting. I asked the viewers to wipe their hands on painting number three. Of course, now their hands are stained with charcoal and ashes. They want to clean their hands, but I ask the crowd to wipe their hands on the blank canvas, on painting number four. The fingerprints on the canvas mean that you’re a participant of this crime in Iraq.”

Al-Sindy said this was his way of getting his audience to participate in the message he wanted to deliver: It is up to us to make this world the best place to live in.

He showed the series in more than 10 countries and the fourth piece, the blank canvas, is now covered with more than a thousand people’s fingerprints.

“Everyone wants to show that they are responsible for us not having peace in this world,” he said. “The frames are cracked and damaged because they toured many, many countries. I kept it as it is.”

Al-Sindy has also produced an 11-minute documentary about the burning of the Iraqi library called “Letters Don’t Burn.”

His latest project, called “The Bridge,” showcased the work of 47 premier and emerging Arab, Persian and Jewish visual artists around the theme of what “bridges” us to each other. The show opened in Paris in February and has been seen in England, Egypt and other countries.

The idea was to collect stones and bricks and, instead of using them to hit each other, to build a bridge out of them that would start a cultural dialogue between different countries.
“This would help create love,” he said, “because if I love you I will not fight you. If I love you, then I will put my hands with your hands and we will build something together. All the problems in this universe are the result of us not loving each other. People’s desires for opportunism, greed, for looking out for themselves and not each other, are the reasons we don’t have universal peace.”

View more of the artist’s work at QaisSindy.com.

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Qais Al-Sindy’s “Return to the Garden of Eden”

The Revivification of Music by Qais Al-Sindy

The Revivification of Music by Qais Al-Sindy

I’m currently working on the third book of the Iraqi Americans book series, which will be about the lives of artists. This project has been a luxury since it has introduced me to breathtaking artwork and inspiring artists, one of who is renowned Iraqi American artist Qais Al-Sindy.

I spent this morning enwrapped in Qais’ exquisite art and meaningful literature. Qais lives in San Diego, and shortly after I started this project, nearly every artist I talked to mentioned Qais’ accomplishments. They said I had to meet this artist, and last month, I had the pleasure of interviewing him over the phone. Then I received six of his books in the mail.

This morning, flipping through the pages of his books as I drank my coffee and listened to Zen music, I felt lifted in spirit by the imaginative, rhythmic, and emotional canvases that display much more than the appearance of the subject. They convey the subject’s inner mysticism. Through these paintings, one enters the dream of a “Return to the Garden of Eden” – the title of one of Qais’ books.

In the last page, he quotes the Epic of Gilgamesh, as translated by Maureen Gallery Kovacs:

“Gilgamesh goes off in search of the answer of everlasting life. When he arrives on the other side of the long darkness, he encounters “the Garden of the Gods.” But the description then turns to the precious metals and stones. “And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx are there… There was a Garden of the Gods: all round him stood bushes bearing gems… fruit of hung thick with fruit, sweet to see… rare stones, agate, and pearls from the sea.”

In another book,The Struggles for Survival, Al-Sindy writes this passage called “Foothold.”

Soon after birth your search begins for a foothold on this globe. You search for your being, for a piece of land to secure your feet in. You search for a place upon which to stand on and declare “Here I am.”

The world has become overcrowded with its human inhabitants. There is traffic wherever you go. Everyone is competing for a chair to sit on. An unstoppable race to win the first positions, rather to win any position. When you don’t find that space, you hover above awaiting someone to be removed, or rather you remove somebody.

Who doesn’t want to say, “I am here!?” Who isn’t tempted by that moment of existence? Who doesn’t wish to announce his existence or prove that he exists?

In this conceptual work I invite the viewer to find his own foothold… despite the footprints overcrowding the space, the excitement of the search is not void of passion and adventure, even if that adventure is found in daydreaming to achieve harmony with the reality.

To learn more about Qais Al-Sindy, visit his website: http://qaissindy.com/