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About

Wisam Alsamad is an accomplished ceramic artist from Iraq. He embarked on his artistic journey by earning a Diploma of Fine Arts from the Fine Arts Institute in Baghdad in 1990.

His dedication to the craft led him to further academic pursuits, culminating in a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus on ceramics from the College of Fine Arts at Baghdad University in 1999.

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Wisam is an esteemed member of various artistic associations, including the Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts, the Oslo Fine Art Society, Iraqi Artists Union, the Iraqi Artists Society, and the Iraqi Calligraphists Society.

His commitment to artistic excellence has been recognized on the international stage, as evidenced by the numerous awards he has received at international festivals and biennials.

His artworks, which skillfully blend heritage with modernism, have found a home in museums and official institutions across Arab and foreign countries.

Additionally, art collectors worldwide appreciate and own pieces from his impressive portfolio. Wisam is particularly renowned for his distinctive style, characterized by a profound emphasis on the beauty of Arabic letters.

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Besides his achievements through his personal experiences, he is an artist with his own style. He combines Arabic calligraphy with abstract compositions to give his works their distinctive aesthetic qualities, making them as easy to distinguish as if they bore his signature.

Discover Wisam's perspective, inspirations, and the creative process that fuels his remarkable ceramic masterpieces. Gain a deeper understanding of his international recognition, memberships in prestigious artistic societies, and the fusion of heritage with modernism that defines his distinguished style.

Explore the personal and artistic dimensions of Wisam Alsamad through this intimate dialogue, offering a unique glimpse into the mind of a prolific Iraqi ceramic artist.

So let’s dive into Wisam's journey through these captivating questions, providing an intimate glimpse into his creative world:

What is the inspiration source for you to become a ceramics artist?

Those who follow my artistic works notice that the Iraqi Museum is my primary inspiration. However, no one disagrees that the rich and art-filled environment I experienced during my childhood days in my beloved city of Baghdad significantly impacted the creation of this richness in production.

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The reflection of the magnificent features in this rich city with its great history, its golden, turquoise, and green domes, the aesthetics of the brick shaped by time and the palaces of the Abbasid caliphs, giant walls, and even before that, when I was a child playing with other children in Tell Harmal, which was adjacent to our house in the Mashtal area, seeing the excavation teams that would come and extract pottery painted with oxides from the depths of the earth, all of this had a significant impact on my inspiration and drove me to produce ceramics that carry the spirit of this eternal and immortal city.

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How do you describe your artistic philosophy and approach?

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There is a consistent focus in most stages of my artistic experience on highlighting the aesthetic aspects of the physical properties of clay, which distinguishes my pottery experience in exploring the aesthetics of cracks, fractures, exposure factors, and the like.

This drives me to discover new and innovative aesthetics.

Can you explain your distinctive style and techniques in your work?

Through several ceramic pieces, viewers notice a unity in the production of ceramic works that extends from the early 1990s to the present. This unity is the distinctive style of most of my artistic works, as most of those who have written about my ceramic pieces have stated. The observer of my works sees a series connecting the works, whether early or late in production.

The technique at one time distinguishes my works from time to time and the deep abstraction at another. Abstraction with me is spontaneous; I did not burden myself to establish a school in this depth of abstraction or return to symbolic realism or even purposeful and direct presentation. The meanings behind the ceramic pieces are clear, and my message in ceramics is readable to the viewer.

Delighting others was not my goal as much as I wanted to build a strong wall for our Iraqi ceramics to form a solid foundation for the local ceramics school together with others. The introduction of sculpture or painting to the artwork's surface is a satisfaction of desires. At the same time, it is the influences of Islamic decorations, 'Arabesque,' where my eyes got used to seeing this vast amount of ornaments and their intertwining and engraving.

All of this left a lot in my memory bank. Some works do not endure the addition to the artwork's surface, as the form renews that. Ceramic work is divided into pottery and ceramic sculpture, and the latter cannot endure adding other elements to its surface, as adding to the surface confuses the ceramic work.

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Can you describe your creative process, from the initial idea to the final work?

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I don’t rely on immediacy in producing my artwork, believing in the saying, "If the artist does not see what others do not see, there is no art." Appreciating artwork requires engaging different senses to perceive its taste.

After seeing the artwork for the first time, I need to return for a second, third, and fourth look. This is one of the successes of the artwork or suggestions for viewers to come and see it.

Do you have unique or innovative artistic methods?

"You do not choose to be an artist, and I do not believe you learn to become an artist," as artist Robert Rauschenberg said. Adding various materials to clay opens up possibilities that can arise from the artwork itself. In this case, the artwork moves from its formal concept to its sensory concept towards the material and the place.

This stimulates my visual pleasure in perceiving and revealing the existing relationship, not based on knowledge but on thinking through art. Therefore, I try to make my artwork an extension of myself.

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Are your works part of notable collections or exhibited in art galleries?

I have participated in many exhibitions, festivals, and art biennials, particularly in ceramics. My works have received numerous awards, allowing my experience to evolve and mature through the process of interaction and observing the experiments of others.

I have also conducted several creative workshops in ceramics and gained personal experience in many art institutes and colleges, including significant work with children and youth.

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Can you provide details about your educational background in ceramics?

My early entry into the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad significantly impacted my direction towards my noble material, clay. I am fortunate to have learned from ceramic pioneers in Iraq, such as Tariq Ibrahim, Badr Basim, Kazem Ghanem, and Suham Al-Saudi. The period was full of research and experimentation. After that, I continued my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad under the guidance of Saad Shaker, Shinayar Abdullah, Maher Al-Samaraei, and Mohammed Al-Araibi.

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This period complemented the earlier one in terms of research and experimentation. In conclusion, my educational journey from the Institute of Fine Arts to the Academy shaped me as a ceramic artist deeply connected to the rich history of Sumer, Akkad, Ashur, Nineva, Kufa, and Baghdad. I have experienced two opposing trends in contemporary Iraqi ceramics during my study period. Professor Tariq Ibrahim embraced the first trend during my studies in the College of Fine Arts after returning from China.

He highlighted the beauty of physical changes in clay, delving into the freedom of form and colour and the roughness of the external texture of the artwork. The second trend, witnessed during my studies at the Academy and adopted by my professor Saad Shaker after his return from studying in Britain, emphasised strictness in form and colour, utilising smooth surfaces and giving significant value to colour, trimming, and refining the shape.

Thus, in most of my works, one can find a blend of the strictness and strength of form and colour, mixed with elements of exposure, fractures, ruptures, physical changes, and freedom of colour, fused into a harmonious unity to produce contemporary ceramic pieces. During my early studies in fine arts, specifically ceramics, I delved deeply into the depths of things, going into the maze of the forms of clay in the civilisation of Mesopotamia.

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Working continuously, I was intrigued by the nature of clay, the significance of Sumerian vessels and clay tablets, and their importance in the history of Sumerian and Akkadian civilisations. Since it was a clay civilization, I was working continuously during that period without knowing what clay was, what a Sumerian vessel was, what the clay tablets were, or how important they were in the history of the Sumerians and the Akkadians. I loved planes and ornamentations, and the vessel's shape had deep significance until I later realised how important the shape of the vessel was throughout history.

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What was your professional career, or what jobs or industries did you work with until you reached your current status as a ceramic artist?

My ties to a well-known Iraqi family in the field impacted my professional path and the industries I worked in before landing my current position as a ceramic artist. My late father, Cadi Al-Haddad, was a symbol of industry in Iraq, contributing significantly to introducing various industries to the country.

This background played a substantial role in shaping my path as a ceramic artist. Every ceramic artist should be well-versed in various crafts and trades. Combining craftsmanship with talent results in an outstanding ceramic artist skilled in tools and artistic expression.

Can you share significant achievements in your artistic career, essential exhibitions, or turning points?

As for major achievements in my artistic career, recognising Arabic as a sixth language by the United Nations building in Geneva and launching 40 synonyms for the word "love" was a significant turning point. I adopted this project and used it to create artworks that resonate with the European audience, blending contemporary artistic touches with visual exploration, experimentation, and adventure.

Have you faced notable challenges as a ceramic artist, and how have they contributed to your growth and development?

Migration has been a feature of our lives for 1400 years, and it offers artists the wings of freedom away from the constraints and harshness of their places of origin. My migration was a challenging phase, starting anew everywhere I went.

When I arrived in Norway, despite its unique features, I embraced the choice to begin afresh, following the advice of the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh to work continuously and constantly develop my artistic experience, driven by the intense competition and a sense of responsibility to my homeland, Iraq.

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Do you have a specific mission or goal behind your work as a ceramic artist? What is the driving force, and what objectives do you aim to achieve through your art?

The motivating force behind my work as a ceramic artist lies in the belief that art can balance the horrors of the present.

In a world filled with wars, killings, hatred, and pandemics, where there is great horror and ugliness, the artist is the one who creates balance.

Beauty, with its great power, confronts ugliness and horror, and this is one of the greatest fruits of art, conveying noble messages.

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