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New book accompanies Basil Alkazzi's exhibition opening at The Bradbury Gallery
Iris and The Grasshopper that Flew Away 2006.
NEW YORK, NY.- An Odyssey of Dreams: A Decade of Paintings 2003-2012, the latest body of work by internationally renowned British artist Basil Alkazzi, will be on view in a travelling exhibition that will exhibit at university art venues and museums throughout the Northeast, Southwest and Midwest starting in August 2013 and throughout 2014. The exhibition, and an accompanying book published by Scala that will be released worldwide in October 2013, present Alkazzi’s beautiful and brilliantly colored large-scale gouaches on hand-made paper that are mystical abstract renderings of nature reflecting the artist’s deep engagement in the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of painting throughout his career. In An Odyssey of Dreams, the viewer is transported on a magical mystery tour of a sensual world of soaring skyscapes, enchanting landscapes, and verdant flora and vegetation that are revelatory and uplifting.

Accompanying and enhancing the exhibition are two beautifully packaged and especially produced DVD slide-show films: A Retrospective Journey 1960-2012 with almost 200 drawings and paintings, and Collages & Photo-montages 1985-1998 – both Produced in London by Dominic Clemence ­– that will be played on a monitor or projected.

The first five venues for the exhibition are:

· The Bradbury Gallery, Arkansas State University (August 29 – September 29, 2013)

· The Anne Kittrell Gallery, University of Arkansas (November 4 – December 6, 2013)

· Rider University Art Gallery, Lawrenceville, NJ (February 6 – March 2, 2014)

· The Rosenberg Gallery, Maryland Institute College of Art (March 22 – April 20, 2014)

· The Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, NE (May 16 – July 27, 2014)

The Curator of the exhibition is Judith K. Brodsky, Distinguished Professor Emirita, Rutgers University. During her tenure as co-founder and co-director of the Rutgers Institute for Women and Art at Rutgers with Ferris Olin, she organized and curated many notable exhibitions, including a major retrospective of Faith Ringgold's work: Declaration of Independence; 50 Years of Art by Faith Ringgold; the group show How American WomenArtists Invented Postmodernism: 1970-1975; and most recently, the critically acclaimed multi-site exhibition and catalogue The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art, and Society.

The accompanying book includes a comprehensive and in-depth essay by Donald Kuspit, one of America’s most eminent art critics, formerly Distinguished Professor of Art History and Philosophy at Stonybrook University, The State University of New York, and an interview with Basil Alkazzi by Harry I. Naar, Professor of Fine Arts in studio art and art history at Rider University, director of the University’s art gallery and curator of the University’s art collection. Michael L. Royce, executive director of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) contributes a Foreword, and Judith K. Brodsky writes the Preface and Acknowledgements. The book is designed by the award-winning Isabella Duicu Palowitch.

In his essay, Donald Kuspit, who has written two books on Basil Alkazzi – New Horizons and The Rites of Spring – discusses the scope and diversity of Alkazzi’s personal, highly original oeuvre from the 1960s through the present, from his early melancholy paintings of isolated,abstract figures and nature to his work in the 1980s which Kuspit describes as a period when “a spiritual breakthrough occurs in Alkazzi’s work,” to his “gloriously picturesque collages and photomontages” in 1994, to the “ecstatic nature imagery of the latest decade” which evoke the stunning landscapes of the south of France and Monaco whereAlkazzi now resides.

Kuspit writes about the An Odyssey of Dreams paintings: “They finally metamorphosize into the glorious flowers … Like Mondrian’s flower paintings they are sacred icons, but unlike Mondrian’s flowers those of Alkazzi are not decaying and melancholy but jubilant and growing—not nature on its last legs, ready to be abandoned in Mondrian’s geometrical abstractions, but nature full of joie de vivre, all the more so because it remains mystically abstract.”

In his interview with Alkazzi, Harry I. Naar likens the artist’s oeuvre to the expressive and symbolic qualities of Wassily Kandinsky, and the dream-like qualities found in a Mark Rothko, as well as to the work of Symbolist painters Emile Nolde and Odilon Redon and the British Painter Samuel Palmer.

Alkazzi’s response to Naar’s question about what the images in An Odyssey of Dreams mean to him encapsulates the artist’s vision: “I have always believed in Spirit entities, in the life of a soul that continues to live in Spirit form. My paintings of nature are the Life-Force embodied in nature, all of nature, and that includes mankind.”

The mounting of the exhibition coincides with the 75th birthday of Basil Alkazzi. It is his hope that An Odyssey of Dreams elicits from audiences “Awe at the sublime Soul within Life, and nature, and so, within themselves.”

Basil Alkazzi’s long and distinguished career spans four decades from 1973 to the present. He was born in Kuwait and raised in England where he attended art school. He exhibited regularly in London from 1978 to 1987 at the Drian Gallery, whose director, Halima Nalecz, jump-started many important artistic careers. His work was also included in the annual exhibitions of the National Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Printmakers from the 1970s through the 1990s. Since 1985, Basil has lived in New York at various times. From 1995 until 2000 he was granted residence in the United States under the immigration rubric of “an artist of exceptional ability in the arts.” His work has been shown throughout the country in museums and galleries, ranging from New York City to Oklahoma City to Savannah, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Minneapolis, and cities in California. His work is in the collections of over two dozen museums in the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Neuberger Museum of Art; Hirshhorn Museum – Smithsonian Institution; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; San Diego Museum of Art; Las Vegas Art Museum; San Antonio Museum of Art; New Orleans Museum of Art;Minneapolis Institute of Art; Everson Museum of Art; Nelson Atkins Museum ofArt, among many others. Internationally, his paintings are in the permanentcollections of the Tel-Aviv Museum of Art, Israel; The National Council, Kuwait; and Centrum Sztuki, Warsaw.

Alkazzi, himself, as well as his art has traveled around the world, first embarking on a four-month journey through North Africa, Turkey, and Greece in 1977, and more recently spending three months of cultural travel through Japan and Korea in 1994, The People’s Republic of China and Tibet in 2007, and South Korea in 2009.

“One can regard Alkazzi’s odyssey of dreams as a journey from darkness to light … For Alkazzi, the aim of art is spiritual enlightenment.”—Art critic Donald Kuspit

“His work is distinctive and personal and his recent paintings are quite remarkable. They are gouache and watercolor, but with their spectacular intense coloration and their scale, they are quite different from what one would expect from that medium.”—Judith K. Brodsky, Curator and Distinguished Professor Emerita, Rutgers University



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