want to paint nil"
Madhat Kakei is an intense, yet unaggressive man. He finds friends
everywhere but using Sweden as his base, has succeeded in becoming
internationally known after repeatedly exhibiting in Japan and Paris.
After studying in Bagdad, Madhat continued at the Escuela superior
de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid in the mid seventies,
where he made series of large woodcuts, sad and powerful in countenance
as his jet black moustache. Grappling with existential questions,
he found no answers to them. The blackness of his blacks, the tension
of his strokes may seem almost theatrical, bur are evidently of
extreme personal import. The poet and critic Ilmar Laaban has pronounced
Madhat Kakeis art as being "subterranean growth life out of
death", and surely, his art does express a kind of universal
striving. It is only in the last few decades that we in the West
have had a chance to see virtually monochrome art loosened up in
this lofty manner, with an air of contemporary icon. That the ambition
driving these artists into creating these almost look-alike works,
can have its source in anything from an outlook on life positive
to the point of hedonism, to intellectual precision, or in the last
century. William Turner, for one, who sought in his later works
the sublime of the infinite in the amorphous veils of light within
the atmosphere, as compared to Stephane Mallarme, who maintained
that the perfect poem would be an unwritten page, or, in our own
century, Erik Satie, who performed his Musique d´ameublement
interior design music, as scarcely audible background music.
Since then, the
20th century has produced several quasimonochrome works, apparently
neutral, or filled with tacit contradictions. Within the visual
arts, colour has flowed along two main courses: one emanating from
Kasimir Malevitjs metaphysical aspirations, stretching via Yves
Kleins alchemistic beliefs to Imi Knoebels mental symbiosis. The
other emanating from Aleksendr Rodtjenkos cold materialism, via
Ad Reinhardts strict ascetisism, up to Robert Rymans heartless instruction,
to paint only "the colour".
There is however,
yet another stream, containing nothing of either aridity or negation.
In the West this unobtrusive sublime current has been associated
with the philosophers (pseudo - ) Longinus an Plotinus: "We
can tell you what it is not, but we cannnot tell you what is based
on the idea that all matter is animated and that its ultimate goal
is a densification that nothing can withstand. An ancient outlook
still very much alive coming to Europe from the Middle East with
its swarming religions and ethnic tolerance. Since time immemorial
the "land between the rivers" the Tigris and the Euphrates
the "fartile half-moon", has been a cross-roads for various
cultures and syncretisms the upshot being progressive abrogation
of boundaries. Plotinus was there, Sufism with its cult of intention
thrived there and even the Jessides of Kurdish descent live there
with their belief in the reincarnation of good souls.
Although Madhat Kakei grew up near the river
Tigris with Jessidic neighbours, he is more of a "salik",
a traveller who has covered vast distance between different continents;
the colours of the life-bringing of Mesopotamia, its fertile earth
and verdant vegetation remaining, however, firmly wedged in his spirit,
resulting in a focus of burning intensity, a far cry from the alchemist
"materia prima" and the iconoplastic "tabuala rasa".
Instead what we find here is a sated vitalism that radiates warm light
neither hiding nor judging - rather, in the words of Ivan Agueli -
a transcendantal thought vacuum.And why should not art I be allowed
to set a good example?