(K. Brent Tomer),
IN 1938 Fahrelnissa Zeid flew on an airplane for the first time. Hitler had just annexed Austria; Zeid and her husband, Prince Zeid Al-Hussein, an Iraqi diplomat, were leaving Berlin for Baghdad. The journey had a profound impact on her art. The view from the window, a patchwork of buildings and fields, turned Zeid away from figurative paintings in favour of more abstract works.
But her change of style also had a more traditional impulse: the whirling dresses of Bedouin women on their way to market in Babylon. Zeid’s strength was her ability to draw from Islamic, Byzantine, Arab and Persian influences and combine them with European abstraction. She was an artistic melting pot. A new retrospective of her work at the Tate Modern in London—as well as shows in Istanbul and Berlin—reminds us of the beauty that can arise from cultural exchange.
At the centre of the exhibition is “Break of the Atom and Vegetal Life” (pictured). An enormous painting completed in 1962, it spans five metres, and is a pulsing…Continue reading