Iraqi-born and Auckland-based, artist Samer Hatam creates both painting and sculpture. Hatam’s first major solo exhibition in 2005 developed a seductive and signature use of graphite on panels, which garnered acclaim for his prevailing aesthetic of dark, complex textures and homage to ancient forms.
Samer Hatam has a remarkable and poignant biography. Trained at the Academy and Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad, he was exposed to countless Mesopotamian masterpieces housed at the Iraq Museum, whose collection dates from before 9,000 B.C. through the Islamic period. The recent conquest of Baghdad has resulted in the unfortunate destruction and looting of numerous pieces. Hatam relocated with his family during this time to Amman, Jordan before immigrating to New Zealand in 2004.
Unique in Samer Hatam’s art and content is his celebration of forms and textural experimentation. Although referencing his cultural heritage, generally Hatam is ambivalent about the inclusion of personal narrative and politics in the work. This allows him to focus his ideas and techniques in the restructuring of Sumerian shapes, which were the building blocks to man’s earliest modern structures – ziggurats and pyramids. Hatam’s forms wield power in their reference to architectural elements and seem to compose hieroglyphic messages.
His most recent work sees the artist utilising new materials, representing works created during his first year in Auckland University’s Masters programme. The Elam course signifies Hatam’s commitment to integrate ancient influences within the context of his new home in New Zealand. A body of work has emerged, which fuses dual cultures, while maintaining Samer Hatam’s uncompromising vision.