Light Edge. The Archive of Pain by Yousif Naser
“I avoided long ago the temptation to illustrate the scream but rather sought to express the pain.” Yousif Naser
Yousif Naser is an Iraqi artist born in Baghdad in 1952 who has lived and exhibited in exile in many different countries, arriving the UK in 1990 after periods in Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus and Norway. He graduated at the Baghdad Academy of Fine Arts and at Middlesex University.
Yousif’s work springs from his response to the Iraq war, but it has huge relevance for us in how we think about and deal with all wars. Art and war have had a long and possibly difficult relationship, beginning with the recording and expressing of the glories of conquest and victories, right through to actively exposing the pain and human suffering they cause.
Yousif’s describes his conflict thus: “…but now I am in the war that I was painting. Painting at a time like that seemed to me something unrelated to reality, here a real life and death game revolves, the dead man is not a combination of lines and colours that you can master with exercise, but a real body, bloody and shattered. The demolished houses are not surfaces of shadows and lights, but rather sad ruins that turned painting into something incomprehensible.”
He has little interest in pictorial realism. If his aim were to represent an event, scene or person accurately, he says he would rather find a photograph or use words to describe what is going on. He believes viewers of visual artwork need neither sort of descriptive approach. He is entirely concerned with conveying feelings. Dr Alexandra Rotas
Much of Yousif’s work, of which this is a small collection, illustrate this archive of pain.
To feel the desperate need to scream and yet know that an artist must withhold his first response and wait for the deeper voice to emerge. But I tried hard not to discount the understanding I had acquired during the course of these terrible events, for I knew that if I were to do otherwise, it would be at the expense of the essence of being an artist.
Years on, in the aftermath of war…. I am still painting in the same tone. There is still a lot of pain.