Festival Artist 2016 will be Shwan Dler Qaradaki

Shwan by Behjat Omer Abdullah.jpg

Festival Artist 2016, Shwan Dler Qaradaki. Photo: Behjat Omer Abdullah

The visual artist Shwan Dler Qaradaki draws upon issues of identity, belonging and the challenges of asylum and settlement of refugees in his work. For these reasons Arctic Arts Festival asked him to mount our Festival Exhibition in 2016. The former refugee from Kurdistan in northern Iraq has gained extensive recognition for his community based work, and for its relevance to current political debates.

Qaradaki is already preparing for his festival exhibition and is very inspired by the gallery space in Harstad which he intends to use as a starting point for the work that will be shown. The artist has worked earlier with drawing, painting, photography, installation and video, and plans to make video and image the key facets of his solo exhibition.

I am very happy to have arranged an exhibition with an artist who conveys such potent political undertones in his work. At the same time Shwan Dler Qaradaki´s work is reflected against a backdrop of asylum issues; a theme which could not be more relevant at the present time, states Arctic Arts Festival director Maria Utsi. 

Political engagement came naturally to Shwan as he sought to portray personal experience of a twelve year wait for asylum. Qaradaki feels connected both to the east and west; to the Kurdistan he left as a twenty year old and to Norway, where he has lived for almost the same period of time. 
The career of the thirty-eight year old artist has been moulded around portrayals of identity and belonging, asylum issues, and up to the present time centers upon more philosophical questions about life as a new citizen of Norway. 
Shwan personally believes that political art has been somewhat taboo in recent years, but is encouraged to witness a new wave of community engaged art which seems to be underway. 

I feel privileged to be chosen as the festival artist in 2016 and look forward to working further on this collection. I always use different techniques and learn something new during the course of a fresh project, maintains the artist. 

Shwan Dler Qaradaki recently won the newcomer prize from the Norwegian Arts Council as a recognition of his moving stories told through the medium of grounded artistic expression. In 2014 he was awarded the Oslo Council Artists´Prize for his work during the previous year. 

He has gained recognition most notably after his three part film project entitled «The Salty Kiss»  which takes as its starting point the artist´s flight from Iraqi Kurdistan to Iran following Saddam Hussein´s attack. During recent years he has been assigned roles in solo and group exhibitions both at home and abroad. Qaradaki´s work has been purchased by numerous public institutions such as The Oslo Municipal Council, Buskerud County Council and the Fundacion Pablo Atchugarry.

Shwan studied at the Institute of Fine Arts of Northern Iraq and at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts. Qaradaki was born in 1977 in Sulaimani, located in the Iraqi populated region of Kurdistan.