Ahmed Alsoudani

Ahmed Alsoudani working in the FWM studios, 2021. Photo credit: Carlos Avendaño.

Ahmed Alsoudani communicates themes of humanity, strife, and conflict in his vibrant paintings. Born and raised in Iraq, Alsoudani immigrated to the United States in the late-1990s, where he later studied painting and received an MFA from the Yale School of Art (2008). Alsoudani’s surreal paintings have garnered attention for their dream-like quality that incorporate architectural remnants, body parts, and turbulent yet unidentifiable forms that move across the canvas. 

Using his FWM residency as an opportunity to experiment, Alsoudani worked with FWM studio staff to explore sculpture. This process began with Alsoudani’s sketches and the forms often found in his paintings—concepts which FWM staff developed into digital renderings that were refined until ready for fabrication. With new large-scale forms fashioned from welded and plastered armatures, Alsoudani painted their surfaces to translate his gestural visions onto three-dimensional surfaces. 

The residency’s resulting exhibition Bitter Fruit consisted of five large-scale biomorphic sculptural forms exploring ideas of estrangement and how witnessing and experiencing trauma can manifest in the body. The title of the exhibition takes inspiration from Abel Meeropol’s 1937 poem of the same name, which was later recorded as the song “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday. Seemingly emerging from the museum building itself, these wounded forms appeared no longer suppressed and instead made visible for their viewers to contend with. Alsoudani reflected that his residency provided the opportunity to create and experience the forms of his paintings in real space and would impact his approach to future paintings. 

Artist Bio

Iraqi, born 1975, lives in New York, NY.

Ahmed Alsoudani, who came to the U.S. from Baghdad in the mid-1990s, is known for his vividly-colored and surreal acrylic and charcoal canvases, in which distorted, grotesque faces and body parts portray the horrors of war. This motif draws on the artist’s own experiences of recent wars in Iraq, the imagery of devastation and violence evoking a universal experience of conflict and human suffering. Alsoudani received his MFA in Painting from Yale in 2008; he also holds a BFA from Maine College of Art. In 2011, he was one of five artists representing Iraq in the Venice Biennale, the country’s first time hosting a pavilion in 35 years. The artist’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the Phoenix Museum of Art, and the Portland Museum of Art; recent institutional group exhibitions include Chaos and Awe: Painting for the 21st Century at the Frist Art Museum and the Chrysler Museum of Art.