Artist Nashaat al-Alousi
The first impression the viewer will get from Nashaat al-Alousi's work in the 1970s is that he tried to document the local life (in Iraq). Through that he showed his academic skills, which in turn showed his professional methods in depicting people's movements, the use of light and shadow, color scheme and other basics of painting.
His study in Pozar Institute in Paris and his blend into the artistic scene in the city, between art galleries and working in an art restoration studios, had a significant impact on his tendency to study the surroundings and employing realism and classic methods in his paintings. He took the risk and included more popular themes in his work. That work was considered of classic art because of the exaggeration in the use of light and shadow and the fine details, in addition to the overall topic of the painting that shows his leaning towards the classic.
Nashaat al-Alousi's first exhibition after he returned from Paris in 1977 was at al-Olwiya Art Gallery. The exhibition showcased his academic study. The Model took a big part of the exhibition, in addition to some of the work he's done in Paris. The work varied from still-live to portrait to old Iraqi neighborhoods. And although he used realism to his paintings, they had a unique technique that used true colors, and the thickness of the material was the characteristic of his work. This characteristic is the artist's technique in most of the artist's work.
At the beginning of the 1980s and after he settled in Iraq, Nashaat tended to depict local nature with an eye of the scholar and researcher. He took it as a responsibility to document several local issues and to paint remote areas in Iraq. When the country was at war, he traveled to sometimes dangerous areas.It is worth mentioning too that he served in the army (morale education). He was in a military unit with other artists (Nadhum Hamid, Shawkat al-Alousi, Asim Abdulamir, Husam Abdulmuhsin and others). Nashaat painted several works that depicted war and military life. Sometimes impressionism took part in these works.
Although he leans towards academic art, he likes to experiment, depending on his knowledge of certain artistic aspects. Impressionism was the basic medium in his experiments, except some drawings in ink close to surrealism that he did when he was on staff at the Journalism and Publishing House.
After several joint exhibitions, his next solo exhibition came at al-Rawaq Gallery in Baghdad. He used a new technique, although his work depicted Iraqi themes. It was close to the Baghdad school, but he went further by using abstract in painting architecture and people, but stayed true to his original theme.
Human figures kept their Iraqi beauty, which is known for certain characteristics seen in ancient Iraqi art then the Islamic art and then in the folklore; the round face, wide almond-shaped eyes, the small mouth and completely hiding the nose, in addition to showing heavy body image and focusing on opposite colors on a background showing Iraqi architecture like Shanshool and windows and others. That in the end produced paintings with Iraqi feel, despite the modern techniques, color schemes and the use of different outlines.
The rural life, nature and folklore had their significant share in Nashaat's work. That is despite the clash with art techniques known in Iraq in the 1980s, which paid more attention to put the basics for modern art, except for some academic work of some artists like Faeq hasan, Khaled al-Qassab, Walid Sheet, Salah Chiad, Faisal Laibi and others.
Alous exhibition at al-Orfali Art Gallery was a successful experiment to document the nature and architecture of the village where the artist was born. The main theme was realism, but in some case he used impressionism to show the natural beauty and at the same time give variety of colors and show his skills. For most of the work in this exhibition, Nashaat painted directly from nature, carrying his easel and moving around with his brother Dhirgham through Alous orchards, looking for what satisfies him of scenery to paint on his canvas.
His main concern in this exhibition was to document the details of that village, which was expected to sink in the Euphrates. He also wanted to paint using realism techniques and show beauty through it.
Nature is what he falls back to during his time off and when he moves from one technique to the other. You can find him looking for what satisfies him. The 100 painting exhibition was the second project. 100 small paintings that showcase Iraq's nature through different points of view. A doable idea. Zero hour starts with the first image that comes to his mind. Preparing canvas and frames was not the real obstacle for Nashaat al-Alousi, despite the difficulty of finding the material at the time. But he always manipulated wood to make it part of the art work.
Carrying the easel around rural areas around Baghdad was not the only method, he also used photography. Photographer Zyad Turky accompanied him from one city to another looking for scenery to capture and make the subject of the next painting.
Ofuq gallery was the host of his 100 paintings exhibition. The size did not exceed 50 cm, but they were of different styles and techniques. He moved from classic art with harmony of colors and details to using heavy brushes and opposite colors to show skillful academic artist. Nashaat is fond of Iraq's nature. His love to nature had its effect. In each painting, the view can see the effort and research that was done for the work. He first lives the scene, and then his hands transfers it onto the canvas, not only what he sees but what he remembers of details necessary for this kind of work.
Experiment and attempts to escape realism was one of the main concerns of the artist in the 1990s. After two exhibitions in realism in Amman, at Alia Gallery and Shoman Gallery, came the exhibition at Athar Gallery in Baghdad to become a significant stop in his artistic ventures. The exhibition included carved work in addition to paintings, which leaned towards impressionism that was close to his work at al-Rwaq Gallery but bolder. It was bold in its new experiment using the material; the canvases were different shapes; triangles and other shapes. In addition to paintings, there were works carved out of synthetic wool. The works included opposite colors that outlined human figures. The works were big in size, some exceeded two meters. The style for the carved works was expressionism, but many of the details were in abstract. The result was an experiment that was considered unique and new in the Iraqi art sphere.
The artist's own studio housed one of his exhibitions. It was another experiment that was based on the architecture of old Iraqi houses. The paintings had no human figures. The paintings took most of their figures from geometric shapes, like the Shanshool, old doors and windows. There were variety of material, including oil colors, acrylic and water colors. The exhibition was somehow simple, but was the bases for an important art style later on.
Al-Manzool Gallery in Abu Dhabi also hosted one of Nashaat's exhibitions in his latest style. The Iraqi architecture, although void of many of its details, kept the traditional theme and its Iraqi identity through focusing on the basic symbols and characteristics.
In … he returned to his first obsession, realism, in his exhibition at al-Anda Gallery in Amman. This time the exhibition was for still-live. More than 30 paintings in classic realism in which the artist showcased his effort and academic studies. He used different material and techniques. The experiment may have been successful in the academic aspect, but the artist was more interested in showing his skills and find new ways to show beauty and his artistic vision through different material and color schemes.
Nashaat used to escape work by working more (he calls it a rest). To just paint with no limits or restrictions. To just produce. The point of these exhibitions are only to satisfy the artist's need and at the same time to spend his off time working on are and to find new styles.
Qibab Gallery in Abu Dhabi was the next stop; opening a studio in the UAE and then preparing for the exhibition. I believe Nashaat had already worked on this exhibition for a long time, maybe since his interest in modern art started. From time to time he produced one or two paintings in that style and store them in the hope of studying them more then finish them to satisfy his artistic ego. The result was a high-end art exhibition by all means. The paintings were big in size, most were done on wood panels on different levels, some were 3D paintings. The city, in all its shapes and architecture, the lighting, topography and the feel which the artist paid a lot of attention to. His style depended on utilizing shapes that have their roots in traditions and traditional architecture through modern techniques and through modern vision that doesn’t give them a timeframe or a place. The artist showed them through color schemes and opposite color pallets. The experiment was one of the important styles in the artist's art career.
Carving is not new to Nashaat al-Alousi. But after moving to Amman, he gave in to the temptation of solid material like wood, bronze and fiber. Research and experimenting take most of his time. And just like the material has its own challenges, the artist's style which he wants to use in carving has its own challenges too. At the beginning, Nashaat worked on wood to produce wall hangings that told folktales. The figures were presented in expressionism that spoke to the theme of the tale. Soon these wall hangings were focusing on one, sometimes two main figures. And although we know the material, but we see different styles. His main concern was to create a unique style for himself and for his views of the human figure, which formed most of the work. He aimed to use one language and one beat.
Nashaat al-Alousi, the artist who moves from one style to another as if everything in his life is on an everlasting move in the maze of art. There is no settling, except for the time he spends in front of the easel or the table, with the tools always ready. As soon as he comes up with an idea, the tools are ready to move on a canvas or the material to be carved. All we've said in these lines is but a simple picture of a life full of love for the art and energy that may not settle for years to come. We have pointed out his style changes and moves. The pictures in this book show some of his work, which will be of great help to study these changes and transformations.