Ayyam Gallery Dubai (12, Alserkal Avenue) announces “Machine Hearts”, the solo show of British- Iraqi artist Athier.
“Machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men!” – From The Great Dictator’s Speech, Charlie Chaplin, 1940.
“Machine Hearts” centres on large-scale, semi-abstracted paintings made over the last two years. Full of aggressive, visceral energy, the eponymous, featured series is a continuation of the Man of War series, in which the artist explored the contemporary phenomenon of drone warfare. Still preoccupied by the spectre of war, Athier’s new body of work attempts to visualise the mechanical heart of an active soldier and asks: What is the unseen core that powers a human killing machine? Vibrantly coloured canvases depict twisted, organic elements wrapped around and seamlessly fused with rigid structures, creating dense clusters with a three dimensional, sculptural quality.
Arteries and veins become entwined with industrial cables and pipes, and steel construction rods puncture soft, tissue-like matter, leaving the viewer with doubts about the humanity of the subject. Pockets appear throughout the works trapping parallel worlds within self-contained spaces.
Integrated into the fabric of the overall composition as secondary layers, they depict a parallel macrocosm beneath the tangible surface. Using these ‘pockets’ to change the scale of his painting, the artist explores a subconscious anthology of imagery absorbed through books, films, television footage, and memory throughout his life. Accompanying these large-scale canvases are several smaller works. A group of paintings depict looser manifestations of the artist’s idiosyncratic forms in the mode of still lifes. Other, detailed, monochrome works on paper echo the artist’s background in illustration and demonstrate the manifold complexities of his larger compositions.
With his iconic style that explores the intricacies of human identity and destruction, Athier’s work can be experienced on several levels. His intense, bombastic abstracts are heavily laden with disconcerting statements that tell the story of a schizophrenic, broken reality.