May 23, 2018
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Maine College of Art star returns to Portland Wednesday night

Alix Smith | Courtesy of Haunch of Venison
Alix Smith | Courtesy of Haunch of Venison
Iraqi artist and MECA graduate Ahmed Alsodani has a solo show at Portland Museum of Art called Redacted. The work of the Bagdad native who lived in Syria reflects the chaos of war.
By Kathleen Pierce, BDN Staff

PORTLAND, Maine — The show grabbing the most attention at the Portland Museum of Art this fall is not Winslow Homer’s “Civil War,” it’s Ahmed Alsoudani’s shock and awe.

The Iraqi breakout artist whose colorful, yet disturbing and disoriented paintings of life under a totalitarian regime comes to Portland Wednesday to discuss his show “Redacted.”

“This is like a homecoming,” the Maine College of Art graduate told the BDN in September.

And students at the school are ready to give Alsoudani a hero’s welcome.

The artist, who escaped Iraq for Syria and then America, immigrated in 1999. Moving to Portland and attending MECA, he learned to use the full spectrum of painter’s tools and refined his raw talent. As one of the first graduates to have a solo show at the museum, Alsoudani is an art star on Congress Street.

“He is their hero,” museum director Mark Bessire, who co-curated the show, said when “Redacted” opened in late summer. “There is no doubt he’s become an ambassador of MECA.”

Upon graduating in 2005, the budding blue-chip artist went on to the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. From there he jumped to the Yale School of Art, where he earned an MFA.

Through the years Bessire has become friendly with Alsoudani, who now lives in New York City and shows worldwide. The men will discuss his life as an artist, growing up in a psychic war zone and compare art scenes in New York and Portland. The “unedited” conversation should be both personal and revealing.

Reservations are encouraged. The free talk is 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square, Portland.

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