Sami’s works interrupt easy narrative readings. Recalling moments from his personal previous—first as a younger artist co-opted by the Ba’ath regime to create propaganda pictures, and later as a refugee granted asylum in Sweden—his work draw on the unreliability, subjectivity and peculiar precision of reminiscences. Hallucinatory in each tone and conception, he creates an area wherein emotions, moments and locations emerge and resurface as extremely charged however usually inscrutable and unsettling pictures.
Sami’s poignant and evocative work render deserted interiors, claustrophobic cityscapes and uncanny depictions of apparently on a regular basis objects together with chairs, tables, couches and clothes. There’s a unusual absence of individuals, but the settings are haunted by the hint of human presence; empty chairs in a parliamentary corridor grow to be an enormous graveyard, medals pinned on a army shirt evoke each bullet holes and flowers in a discipline, while the shadow of a spider plant metamorphoses right into a threatening and malevolent presence. Whereas battle and trauma are by no means straight depicted, a deep sense of unease is conveyed, lingering simply beneath the floor. Clothes, mattresses, carpets and different objects—every formed and shaped by the stress and proximity of our bodies—act as substitutes for the human determine, a sort of prosthesis or phantom, lingering lengthy after the topic has departed.
Sami by no means takes pictures or makes sketches, as an alternative mining his personal experiences from his childhood in Iraq. Negotiating the previous by way of portray, Sami’s works probe on the root of what it means to recollect, to excavate the previous and return time and again to the purpose of origin—“The Level 0.”
Working straight onto canvas with brush, pallet, knife and spray paint, Sami provides as a lot consideration to the textures, surfaces and particulars within the works, as he does to the composition as an entire. It’s a method for him to get nearer to the way in which reminiscence works, triggered, because it so usually is, by sudden and apparently unremarkable encounters with the trivia of every-day life. Sami seeks to seize what the digicam can’t, to color what’s left and what returns.
at Camden Artwork Centre, London
till Could 28, 2023