Fadi Yazigi: Contemporary art from Syria, 05 Nov 2015 — 27 Nov 2015

Fadi Yazigi: Contemporary art from Syria

Yallay Gallery presents the first solo presentation in Asia for leading Syrian contemporary artist Fadi Yazigi. The artist’s long-standing practice originates from his Damascus studio, where for over 25 years he has captured the spirit of the Syrian people in an environment besieged by decades of political conflict. Through painting and sculpture, Yazigi exposes a range of emotions, brought to life in gestural figuration. 

In a new body of work composed entirely of square reliefs in fired clay, depictions of men, women, and animals—and at times composites of the three—contort within the perimeters of the sculpted surfaces. Evoking Mesopotamian terracotta plaques, Yazigi’s figures are often in states of companionship or isolation, and uncomfortably, sometimes smiling. The faces and figures emerge as if from the windows and doorways of the old Jewish Quarter where Yazigi works. It is this quotidian that drives the imagery, revealing the joy that can be brought through distraction, the awkwardness of uncertainty, and the emptiness of the unknown.

Yazigi’s paintings enlarge and multiply his narratives, challenge scale, and allow mythological creations to emerge life-sized. Floating Figures, 2010, remains in the human realm, yet the inhabitants hover and intertwine, not fully formed. The paint unfolds across the surface while spirit-like shapes overwhelm the space. What remains is both haunting and ethereal. A third group of recent works, rendered in bronze, allows Yazigi’s figures to fully enter three-dimensionality. Here, the artist’s denizens struggle within the material, entrapped, and sometimes submerged, in the unyielding medium. 

Throughout the presentation, the captive environment of Yazigi’s world is laid-out explicitly, revealing a complexity of emotion that can be cast in one expression, yet outlasts natural modes of time. For while the gestures and visages of the figures express the lives of those who populate a contemporary Syrian metropolis, their forms emerge as those from ancient Sumerian sculpture. It is at this cross-millennial juncture that the artist answers an essential meta-physical query: for certainly what is there? and what is it like? are questions credibly answered in the content of Yazigi’s work.

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