May 23 - June 29, 2013
Thursday 23 May, 6-9pm
Amelia Johnson Contemporary and XVA Gallery present
the work of established Iraqi artist, Halim Al Karim, and
emerging Iranian artist, Arezu. In this exhibition, both
artists utilise the analogue camera to produce obscured
images that explore different considerations of freedom.
Halim's art practice is acutely influenced by years of
hiding, persecution and violence that he suffered during
the Gulf War. Opposing Saddam’s regime and its
compulsory military service he took to hiding in a desert
hole for three years. He survived only through the
assistance of a Bedouin woman who brought him food
and water and taught him about gypsy customs and
mysticism. Al-Karim has since emigrated to America,
however, these years had a profound effect on his life
and form the basis for his art practice which focuses upon themes of politics, gender, fear,
In works from his ‘Lost Memory’ series and his 'Eternal Love' series, Halim manipulates the
negative or the subject (or both) to create striking blurred portraits. In his removal of any
signifying markers, the artist prompts the viewer to think beyond the physical presence of a
body to the sub-conscious. Halim is interested in how the mind can be free of the body’s
external experiences. In ‘Lost Memory’, Halim shot his models out-of-focus and covered
with a white silk material. The work explores the power of memory and in
particular its ability to recall the good and render the bad obsolete. The works from the
‘Eternal Love’ series also portray unrecognizable people and evoke a consideration of how
love can bind physically separated people, and its effect on those who find it and those
who do not.
Arezu's images explore the sensation of space and freedom through distinct series. In one
series, the artist depicts soaring birds to explore the physical release that the act of flight
connotes. In others the artist uses female models to a similar end through obscured form.
Although both artists embrace the uncertainty of time and place, each series
represented is visually different. Taken together though the works represent a distillation of
contrasting approaches to liberty.