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 October 23, 2003 - November 22, 2003

Drawing from Life

Postmasters Gallery is pleased to present a unique exhibition of ink drawings and watercolors by STEVE MUMFORD. The exhibition will open on Thursday, October 23, and will be on view until November 22, 2003. The show titled "Steve Mumford in Iraq: Drawing from Life" presents a series of drawings made "en plein air" during the artist’s two trips to Iraq since April 2003. Mumford returned to New York on October 19, 2003.

Steve Mumford, a painter with whom I have been working for the past three years, has traveled to Iraq on his own initiative twice since mid April. Not sponsored and not “embedded”, he is single-handedly reviving and updating the great tradition of a war artist and history painter. Steve obtained a press pass from an art website/portal "artnet" and entered, via Kuwait, literally on the day the statues fell. He made his way through Basra, Nasiriya and Kerbalah to Baghdad, and took trips north to Tikrit and Kirkuk. He returned to New York in mid May and left again August 9, this time starting with Baghdad and planning to stay in Iraq for about 2-3 months. He spent the last two weeks of the trip in the Sunni Triangle, in Tikrit and Samarra.

As he travels, he makes ink drawings and watercolors recording in this most traditional way his unmediated experiences of such extraordinary time and place. They depict scenes from daily street life in Iraq, military actions and private headquarters of the US soldiers, encounters with Iraqi artists, museums, oil fields, mass graves excavations, and serene countryside. The drawings, accomplished and expressive, are often very moving and beautiful; not a simple task given that many are made in quite stressful circumstances.

Steve Mumford has posted several of his diary entries and images from the second trip on artnet magazine - this time, in addition to his sketchbook, he took a laptop and a satellite phone. The exhibition at Postmasters will present a selection of about 45 drawings from both trips.... Equally convincing arguments can sometimes be made, both, for and against closing the gap between art and life. The complex, highly charged entanglement of the two makes Steve Mumford's project unique.

Magdalena Sawon, director New York, October 12, 2003

Steve Mumford's "Baghdad Journal