In the very early 2000s while I was struggling with my own identity as an artist I met a man who deeply touched my soul. My struggles were based on the fact that most of my work up until that point had been directly autobiographical – a process that was largely cathartic but that had propelled me to a new place of healing where I no longer needed to so deeply examine my individual experience. In this healing space, I became largely haunted by the disconnection of human beings from each other in the world, separated by divergent politics and ideologies with no readily accessible platform for conscious dialogue and debate with each other under the auspices of leadership, administration and the media. I was longing for emotional connection with my peers in other countries, convinced that the majority of them felt the same.
I met Ayad Alkadhi through a gallery we both showed our work at and learned he was originally from Iraq. His paintings at the time were large textural articulations with Arabic markings revealing an ancient poetic past that the artist still longed for beneath his home country’s explosive contemporary identity. We bonded over our common hunger for expression and I spent a few enjoyable afternoons in his small apartment that doubled as a studio while we discussed our global dynamics over bran muffins and tea.
Over the course of the next decade, I watched with glee as his career exploded and took him back to New York City where he remains today, perpetually evolving his creative process. He continues to create amazingly poignant work in a world where the constant flux of political, economic and social change continues to inspire his profoundly personal yet universal paintings.