Artist Majd Kurdieh’s practice incorporates painting, drawing, and literature using recurring figures that stand to tell a story, usually carrying a strong moral and positive reinforcement that the artist projects into the world.
Kurdieh’s works have always been figurative, with his earlier works being a series of trials in realism, mythicism, and other fields. Through years of painting and exploration, the artist deduced his style to the more minimalistic one his new works embody.
Kurdieh turned to more childlike paintings in which he incorporates strong literary and story-telling techniques. He paints recurring whimsical characters that seem to narrate a story. Over the past four years, the artist has created a ‘cast of characters’, the two main ones being the Fasaeen (Arabic for ‘tiny ones’). The stories told through the representation of these figures are not specific stories that the artist references but rather ones that could apply to any viewer, leaving room for personal interpretation. The Fasaeen, one boy (Fasoon) and one girl (Fasooneh), always smiling despite the fact their world is filled with hardships, are usually accompanied by other characters.
At first glance, the works seem cartoonlike and simple, however, upon further investigation, the viewer is drawn into a complex world that the artist has been able to simplify, almost with a childlike innocence.
Using a strong literary element within his works, Kurdieh joins the Fasaeen with a group of animals that he paints. The group of characters comes together to make what the artist calls ‘The Very Scary Butterfly Gang’. Using the paradox of a butterfly and it being very scary, Kurdieh touches upon harsh topics with immense gentleness. He explains that ‘when the fragility of a butterfly scares you, you become indifferent to the roars of a monster, you will busy yourself defending the rights of people to maintain their humanity’. At the essence of all his work is a strong sense of human protection and need to shed light on basic human rights and needs. The gang carries out small optimistic tasks like removing thorns from the land and replacing them with flowers, or talking to the sun and the moon, where the sun itself rises and sets at its own caprice, projecting a sense of freedom to the viewer.
Strongly poetic and very sensitive Kurdieh channels the multilayers of his emotions into creating deeply humane art. The ingenuity of his paintings and drawings relays the artist’s candor and sincerely draws attention to issues he feels deserve to be represented truthfully.
In his The Land Needs Ironing series, Kurdieh explores nostalgia of home and aims to repurpose his personal memories into representations of the beauty of the souls to whom’s destruction he was witness of. Growing up near the Euphrates River in northeast Syria, yellows and blues are recurrent in his works, drawing upon his memories of home. At a time of personal trauma and conflict in his hometown and home country, Kurdieh does not try to portray the darkness, rather illuminates beauty and colour – wanting to ‘iron out the land’.
In his newest series, #StealingSadness, Kurdieh aims to take his message further as a call to action rather than just a portrayal of what is. He aims to invoke emotions in the viewer as well as create an awareness that would open the doors to an honest discourse on the topic. In this series, the artist explores the connection between a light-spiritedness that runs through all the works and the notion of light-handedness a thief needs in order to ensure successful thievery. Using theft, however in aims of reaching a positive outcome, the viewer cannot help but find a sense of compassion within their hearts for the Fasaeen and what they try to do. By ‘stealing sadness’, one creates a world where happiness and joy exist without an opponent, allowing them to grow and prosper. In this series, Kurdieh introduces larger paintings, further exploring the many of layers of the Gang’s world. The larger canvases are accompanied by smaller works on paper.
Kurdieh’s works are playful and positive. He continues to develop his characters that gain more depth as he progresses in his own practice. At the centre of his practice is a sense of duty to make the world a better place, whether through art, discourse, or creating moments where the viewer forms a connection with his Fasaeen.
Recently, Kurdieh has featured in solo and group exhibitions at BBA Gallery, Berlin (2019), Manara Arts & Culture, Jordan (2020, 2019); Fann-A-Porter, Dubai (2019, 2018, 2016), El-Sawy Culture Wheel, Cairo (2019), and Athar Al Farasheh, Aleppo (2011), Sikka Art Fair, Dubai (2018) and Art Bahrain, Manama (2019, 2018). His works are housed in public and private collections in the Middle East and abroad, including H.E Zaki Nusseibeh private collection and the Atassi Foundation.
Born in Aleppo, Syria in 1985, Kurdieh lives and works in Amsheet, Lebanon.