press release

Madhat Kakei is one of Sweden’s most consistent artists. His monochrome paintings have inspired a few of the world’s most prominent poets, including Tomas Tranströmer and Adonis, and in his images East and West are brought together. In Madhat Kakei’s Abstract Cabinet Moderna Museet for the first time presents this unfairly obscure Swedish painter for the first time.

In our consciousness are rooms / to which we’re led blindfolded Tomas Tranströmer in a poem dedicated to Madhat Kakei

Shade is not the sun’s opposite / shade is the second light Adonis in “The Sun Itself”, a tribute poem to Madhat Kakei.

Madhat Kakei is a painter who has devoted decades to painting layer upon layer of light and shadow, to create a poetic universe that combines Western concepts of monochrome painting with totally different abstract traditions. The idea of non-figurative, abstract images is not a modernist invention, even if it was injected with new meaning by the early 20th-century avant-garde artists. The prohibition against figuration and the notion that it is impossible to depict the almighty are based on much older philosophical and religious ideas. Madhat Kakei is aware of this, along with many of the poets who are drawn to his paintings, which, on closer scrutiny prove not to be monochrome at all, but have a depth that suggests an infinity of colours. Kakei paints what the eye cannot see. He called his exhibition in Amman, the capital of Jordan, in 2013 ”Return to the Sun”. The title evokes associations to a pivotal moment in Russian avant-garde history, the opera “Victory over the Sun”, created exactly one hundred years previously. The stage curtain was adorned with Malevich’s black square, arguably modernism’s most poignant emblem, which here made its apperance for the first time.

“Painters all over the world revisit this non-figurative square and extract new meanings from the abstract image. This makes it especially exciting to present Madhat Kakei in dialogue with a few of the most seminal artists today, who have come to abstractions via other paths: Etel Adnan, Joe Bradley, Günther Förg, Martin Kippenberger, Jutta Koether, Wolfgang Tillmans, Sophie Tottie, Rosemarie Trockel, and Fredrik Vaerslev,” says Daniel Birnbaum, the curator.

About Madhat Kakei    Madhat Kakei was born in Kirkuk, Iraq, in 1954. He studied art in Bagdad and Madrid in the 1970s and moved to Sweden in the mid-1980s, where he became a Swedish citizen. In recent years, his art has been shown in numerous exhibitions. For example Museum of Art, Wien, Austria, 2002; Hyogo International Painting Competion of Painting, Kobe, Japan, 2005; The Kurdish Library & The Kurdish Museum, New York, USA, 2005; Galerie Maria Lund, Paris, France, 2005; Konstnärshuset in Stockholm, 2011; and at Borlänge Library, 2015.