Sign In
Artists' Index
Encyclopedia of Modern Art and Arab World
موســــوعة الفـن الحديـــث والعالــم العربـــي
Artists' Index

Shakir Hassan Al Said

شاكر حسن آل سعيد
Shakir Hassan Al Said
Chakir; Shaker; Hasan; al-Said
​​Born on 28 March 1925 in Samawah, Iraq; died on 5 March 2004 in Baghdad, Iraq.
<img alt="" src="/BioPics/Signatures/sh-bio-sig3.jpg" style="BORDER: 0px solid; ">
Shakir Hassan Al Said

​​​​​​​Biography​

​Born in Samawah, Iraq, in 1925, Shakir Hassan Al Said studied social sciences at Baghdad's Higher Institute of Teachers, obtaining his BA in 1948. He initially worked as a teacher of Social Sciences at Malak Secondary Education, the Ministry of Education from 1949 to 1954 before studying painting at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad and teaching art education later on. After his graduation in 1954, he received state scholarships to pursue his studies abroad. From 1955 to 1959, he studied painting and art history in Paris, at the Académie Julien, the École des Arts Décoratifs, and the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. On his return to Baghdad, he taught art history at the Institute of Fine Arts from 1970 to 1980, and also taught painting and art histo​ry at the Institute of Art Education in Saudi Arabia from 1968 to 1969. From 1980 to 1983, he headed the Department of Aesthetic Studies at the Ministry of Culture and Information. In 1992, he worked as a counselor at the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation in Amman, Jordan. In 1994, he founded the symposium of Aesthetic Discourse at the Saddam Art Center in Baghdad. Al Said was also a Member of the National Committee League of Art Critics, the Iraqi Artists Syndicate, the Society of Iraqi Plastic Artists and the Iraqi Teachers' Syndicate. He stayed in Baghdad until his death in 2004.

Al Said was a prolific and influential artist. He was a founding member of the Baghdad Group for Modern Art (Jama'at Baghdad lil-Fann al-Hadith) in 1951, together with Jewad Selim and Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, and the One Dimension Group (al-Bu'd al-Wahid) in 1971. He wrote art manifestoes for both groups, in addition to his contemplative manifesto (al-Bayan al-Ta'ammuli) published in the cultural supplement of the Iraqi daily al-Jumhuriyyah in 1966. The manifesto he wrote for the Baghdad Group for Modern Art in 1951 was the first art manifesto of its kind in Iraq. It was read out at the group's inaugural exhibition at the Museum of Ancient Costumes in Baghdad – an event that is considered by some the true birth of modern art in Iraq. The manifesto gives voice to the group's commitment to both heritage and modernity. Its emphasis on the culture of the region drew inspiration from Islamic art, particularly al-Wasiti's thirteenth century miniature paintings, but also from products of popular culture such as traditional carpets, as well as from the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia. This entailed Arab artists distancing themselves from the previous course of modern art in the Arab world, which was perceived as following European models, and setting out to ground modern art more firmly in a local context. It marks a re-orientation in art that coincided with radical political change and the growth of Arab nationalism.

With the One Dimension Group, Al Said developed his theoretical approach to art further. The group was interested in the Arabic letter as a formal element in modern art, as stated by Al Said in the group's manifesto. The group held exhibitions in the early 1970s but then lost its influence as the incorporation by artists of Arabic letters into their works, sometimes referred to as al-hurufiyyah al-'arabiyyah (Arabic letterism), came to be a widely adopted practice. Al Said's interest in Arabic letters was not limited to their shape and orthography; rather, it was an integral part of his vision of an aesthetics of the trace, the wear and tear of life and marks left by time, as the cracks and fissures in his carefully textured wall paintings demonstrate.

Al Said's early paintings show an affinity to European avant-garde art movements, such as expressionism and cubism, and especially to the work of Paul Klee, but also draw on Arabic-Islamic heritage and popular culture. Mixing figurative and abstract elements, they are divided by grid-like patterns into different fields of bright color. His artistic practices, though, changed when he turned his attention to Sufism in the 1960s. It was in this context that he produced his many untitled wall paintings dominated by earth tones, in which the Arabic letter figures prominently as a formal element in the composition of an abstract painting. Calligraphy is of vital importance in the Sufi tradition, and the letter "waw," which recurs in Al Said's paintings, has aroused particular attention. As Annemarie Schimmel has pointed out in her book Calligraphy and Islamic Culture (1984), the letter "waw" which often stands for the conjunction "and" is recurrent in the definition/concept of faith in Islam, namely the "belief in God, AND his Angels, AND his Books, AND his Messengers, AND Destiny, be it good or bad." Accordingly, the sequence of "waws" can be read as symbolizing the connotations inherent in "ash-Shahadah" or "the profession of faith." Al Said borrows elements of Islamic calligraphy but places them in a contemporary context. Linked to popular and spontaneous expressions, his paintings make use of Arabic writing in the form of mural inscriptions, graffiti, and signs scribbled on a city wall. As such, they can be compared to those of the Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies, to whom Al Said referred explicitly in his writings.

Al Said published several books on modern art in Iraq and numerous articles in Arabic journals and newspapers. He is recognized today as one of the fathers of modern art in Iraq. His influence as an artist, a teacher, and a forerunner of art historical and theoretical writing in the Arab world has been great but has yet t​o be fully studied and documented.

His work is held in numerous private and public collections, among them the Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad, the British Museum, London, the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha.

Exhibitions

Selected Solo exhibitions

2003Bissan Gallery, Doha, Qatar
_____Dar al-Anda, Amman, Jordan
2001Retrospective, Athar Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq
1999 1990s works of art, Athar Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq
1998 Doubles and Allusions, Al Riwaq Art Space, Manama, Bahrain
1998 Doubles and Allusions, Arts Gallery, Tunis, Tunisia
1997French Cultural Centre, Baghdad, Iraq
1996  Double and One Dimension paintings, French Cultural Centre, Baghdad, Iraq
____   50x70 Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon
1994 Honorary Exhibition, Saddam Art Center, Baghdad, Iraq
1992   Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan
1980 Iraqi Cultural Centre, Beirut, Lebanon
1979An exhibition with Naja Al-Mahdawi, Iraqi Cultural Centre, Beirut, Lebanon    
1978 Sultan Gallery, Kuwait
1974Reflective Visions, The National Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad, Iraq
1966Reflections and Ascensions, The National Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad, Iraq
1961  Institute of Fine arts Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq
1954  Institute of Fine Arts Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq​

Selected Group exhibitions​

2015Exhibition 555, Garage Gallery, the Fire Station, Doha, Qatar
2010 Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar
2003Sharjah Biennial, United Arab Emirates
1997Environment, Surrounding and Ecology in Iraqi Art, Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan
1996    The Fifth One Dimension Group exhibition, Abaad Gallery, Amman, Jordan
1994The Forth One Di​mension Group exhibition, Abaad Gallery, Amman, Jordan
1988Intimacy of Signs, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France
1986New Delhi Triennial, India
1979The 15th Sao Paolo Biennial, Brazil
1977 Arab Art Exhibition, Iraqi Cultural Centre, London, United Kingdom
1976Venice Biennial, Italy
1975Festival Cannes sur Mer, France
1971Participated in the first and subsequent exhibitions of the One Dimension Group, The National Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad, Iraq
1951 Participated in the first and subsequent exhibitions of the Baghdad Group for Modern Art, Museum of Ancient Costumes, Baghdad, Iraq

Awards and Honors

1987SIPA and UIA honorary Achievement Awards
1986Saddam Prize for Arts
1981, 1986 First Prize International Festival​, Baghdad, Iraq
1975   National Appreciation Prize, Cagne-sur-Mer International Festival, France
____ Award for artistic and theoretical achievements, the Arab Artists Association

​Keywords

Iraq, Modern Art, Abstract Art, Painting, Art History and Theory, Baghdad Group for Modern Art, One Dimension Group.

Bibliography

Al-Bahloly, Saleem. "Shakir Hassan Al Said," in Meem Projects 2013: Part 1: Modern Arab Art, Part 2: Letters in Art, eds. Charles Pocock, Samar Faruqi, and Noura Haggag. Dubai: Meem Editions, 2013.
Al-Kassab, Said. "Mu'assasat al-Khitaab al-Jamaali: Marji'iyaat at-Ta'seel fi l-Fann al-Iraqi al-Hadeeth" (Symposium of Aesthetic Discourse: Benchmarking Roots in The Modern Iraqian Art). Beirut: Dar Kutub li-n-Nashr, 20

12.
Dagher, Charbel. "al-Hurufiyyah Al-Arabiyyah: Fann wa Hawiyyah" (Arabic Letterism: Art and Identity). Beirut: Sharikat al-MaTbuaat li-t-Tawzee'a wa n-Nashr, 1990.​
Dagher, Charbel. "Shakir Hassan Al Said, Untitled (The Wall)," in Meem Projects 2013: Part 1: Modern Arab Art, Part 2: Contemporary Arab Art – How Do You Sleep at Night? eds. Charles Pocock, Samar Faruqi, and Noura Haggag. Dubai: Meem Editions, 2013.
Nadir, Souhail Sami. "A la Recherche de la Trace," in Croisement de Signes. Edited by Mohamed Metalsi. Paris: Institut du Monde Arabe, 1989.
Schimmel, Annemarie. Calligraphy and Islamic Culture. New York: New York University Press, 1984.
Shabout, Nada. Modern Arab Art: Formation of Arab Aesthetics. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 2007.
Shakrun, Nazar. "Shakir Hassan Al Said wa Nazariat Al-Fan Al-Arabi" (Shakir Hassan Al Said and the Theory of Arabic Art). Beirut: Ad-Dar L-Arabia Lil Ulum, 2010
Yussef, Faruq. "Siret Al-Lamar'ee Fi ar-Rasm, Min Said Ila Himat" (Biography of The Invisible, From Said to Himat). Amman: Al-Muassasa l-Arabia Lil-Dirasat wa N-Nashr, 2010.

Further Reading

Selection writings on art by Shakir Hassan Al Said "Ana n-Noqtah Fawqa fa'i l-Harf" (I am the point above fa' of letter). Baghdad, 1998.
"Al-Bayaanaat l-Fanniyyah fil Iraq" (Art Manifestos in Iraq). Baghdad: Ministry of Culture and Information, 1973.
"Diraasaat Ta'ammuliyyah" (Contemplative studies). Beirut: Dar al-Jamal, 2006.
"Al Fann t-Tashkeelee al-Iraqi al-Mu'aser" (The Contemporary Iraqi Plastic Art). Tunis: The Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO), 1992.
In collaboration with Majed Saleh as-Samaraa'i, "Hiwar al-Fann t-Tashkeeli: Muhadaraat wa Nadawaat hawla Jawaneb mina th-Thaqaafah at-Tashkeeliyyah wa 'Alaqatuhaa bil Funun al-Arabiyyah wal-'Islamiyyah" (Dialogue of the Plastic Art: Lectures and Seminars on Aspects of the Plastic Culture and its Relationship with the Arabic and Islamic Arts). Amman: Darat Al Funun, Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation, 1995.
Al Said, Shakir Hassan. "Fusul min Taareekh al-Harakah at-Tashkeeliyah fi l-Iraq" (Episodes from Plastic Movement's History in Iraq). Baghdad: Ministry of Culture and Information, 1983.
Al Said, Shakir Hassan. "Al-Hurriyyah fil Fann" (Freedom in Art). Beirut, Amman: al-Mu'assasah l-Arabiyyah lid-Diraasaat wa n-Nashr, Dar al-Fares Li n-Nashr wa t-Tawzi'a, 1975 and 1994.
Al Said, Shakir Hassan. "Jewad Selim: al-Fannan wa al-'Akharun" (Jewad Selim: The Artist and the Others). Baghdad: ad-Dar al-'Ammah li-sh-Shu'un th-Thaqafiyyah, Ministry of Culture, 1991.​​
Shabout, Nada. “Shakir Hassan Al Said: A Journey towards the One-dimention.” Universes-in-Universe, Nafas, May 2008. Accessed July 27, 2015. http://universes-in-universe.org/eng/nafas/articles/2008/shakir_hassan_al_said/.

 

 Artwork

  • Ta’ammulaat Ala an-Nuqtah (Reflections On The Dot), 1998 Black marker pen on paper, 50 x 32.5 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
  • ad-Deek al-Faseeh (The Articulate Cockerel), 1954 Oil on canvas, 60 x 44 cm Collection of Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah
  • Untitled, 1988 Oil on canvas, 125 x 65 cm Collection of Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah
  • Wall #1, 1991 Oil on wood panel, 64 x 45 cm Collection of Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah
  • Untitled, 1963 Oil and plaster on board, 66.5 x 56.5 cm Collection of Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah
  • Jala, Aidun (Evacuation, We Will Return), 1983 Mixed media on board, 122 x 101.5 cm Collection of Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah
  • The Great Symbol, 1999 Oil on wood panel, 110 x 110 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
  • Title unknown, 1998 Collage on paper, 58 x 34.5 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
  • Title unknown, 1985 Oil and brown chalk on woven paper, 60.5 x 44.6 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
  • Title unknown, 1959 Oil on canvas, 79 x 100 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
  • Title unknown, 1961 Oil on canvas, 82 x 94 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
  • Title unknown, 2000 Mixed media on paper, 41 x 29.5 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
  • Title unknown, 1977 Ink on paper, 53.5 x 73 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
  • Title unknown, 1986 Watercolor on paper, 50 x 70 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
  • Title unknown, 1999 Mixed media on wood panel, 262.6 x 228.4 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
  • Title unknown, 1955 Black ink on paper, 32 x 23 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
  • Title unknown, 1955 Indian ink on paper, 32 x 23 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
  • Title unknown, 1998 Ink and collage on paper, 29 x 31 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
  • Title unknown, 1981 Watercolor on paper, 67.5 x 63.5 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
  • Title unknown, 1955 Black ink on paper, 27 x 20 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
  • Title unknown, 1962 Pencil on paper, 50 x 35 cm Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha

 Image

 

 Media