Aatifi is a contemporary Afghan-German painter, printmaker and calligrapher. He was born in 1965 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He lives and works in Bielefeld, Germany. His works contain abstracted Arabian calligraphy and modern European influences.
After graduating as a master calligrapher early, he moved to Kabul in 1982. There he finished High School, opened a workshop shortly after and built a school for drawing and calligraphy. He then entered the Kabul University's Fine Arts Faculty in 1989 to become a painter. In the same year, he was awarded the Prize for Calligraphy and Composition by the Afghan Ministry of Culture and was awarded a second time the year after. In 1991, he was awarded first place by the artists group Hakim Naser Khesraw Balkhi. In 1992, he finished his studies in Kabul. Moving to Germany in 1995, Aatifi became a member of the Sächsischer Künstlerbund and worked as a stipendiary at Moritzburg Castle in 1997. He then got recognized by painter and professor Siegfried Klotz who offered him classes in 1997/98 at Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. In the late 90's Aatifi moved to Bielefeld where he set up his studio to work and to create art to the present day.
Solo Exhibition at Museum für Islamische Kunst in the Pergamon Museum Berlin (2015)
Invited by director Stefan Weber Aatifi curated an exhibition in the Musem für Islamische Kunst in the Pergamon Museum Berlin in 2015 titled 'Aatifi - News from Afghanistan'. Specialised in preserving and presenting ancient Islamic art, Weber's decision to implement contemporary paintings on a large scale in the museum for the first time was based on Aatifi's approach towards calligraphy. 'Aatifi comes from a living tradition, which also distinguishes him from a number of contemporary artists [...]. The strenghts of the tradition - i.e. the foundations of classical aesthetics in calligrapy - are not always known, nor is the freedom of distancing oneself from these understood. That's why poor imitiations of cultural archetypes are produced. Not so with Aatifi. Aatifi pulls off the balancing act [...].'
Work and techniques
Aatifis works can be described as a form of highly stylized appropriation of written language. Coming from the tradition of classic Arabian calligraphy however, he tried to reduce the evidence of perceivable language even further to the point of him using the bare shapes of his source material for the intricacy of the composition. Using acrylics, chalk, ink, charcoal, and metal to establish a wide range of intercepted and connected spaces. In his figurative and abstract works Aatifi also turns to printmaking in various techniques, which he first got in contact with when living in Dresden. His colour palette is a representation of his experiences in Afghanistan and Germany, but is also based on his travels around the world. In 2016, Aatifi has included works in collage technique to his oeuvre.
Works in museums and private collections
- Museum für Islamische Kunst in the Pergamon Museum Berlin/Berlin State Museums/Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation
- Kupferstich-Kabinett/State Art Collections Dresden
- Municipal Art Collection Radebeul
- Federal Centre of Culture Salzau
- The Collection of the Kunstverein Zwickau e. V.
- Municipal Art Collection Zwickau
- 2017: DIE GROSSE NRW, Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf, Group Show
- 2015: ,Aatifi – News from Afghanistan‘, Museum für Islamische Kunst in the Pergamon Museum Berlin, Solo Show
- 2015: ,Aatifi – Prozess III‘, Museum Ratingen, Ratingen, Solo Show
- 2012: ,Ereignis Druckgraphik 4: Ansichten – Aussichten‘, Galerie Vor Ort Ost, Leipzig, Group Show
- 2011: ,METAKOM‘, Kunstverein Kreis Gütersloh, Gütersloh, Group Show
- 2009: ,Aatifi – Skripturale Fragmente‘, Galerie im Torhaus, Federal Centre of Culture Salzau, Salzau, Solo Show
- 2006: ,Contemporary Art Kabul‘, art Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Group Show
- 2005: ,Aatifi – Tanz am frühen Morgen‘, City Galery Radebeul, Radebeul, Solo Show
- 1990: ,Aatifi‘, Ministry of Culture, Kabul, Afghanistan, Solo Show
- 1989: ,Aatifi‘, Kabul University, Kabul, Afghanistan, Solo Show
Awards and stipends
- 2012: 5th Collotype Printing Symposium Lepizig, Leipzig
- 2012: International Graphic Arts Symposium Zwickau, Zebra 5, Kunstverein Zwickau
- 2009: Stipend at the Federal Centre of Culture Schleswig-Holstein, Salzau
- 2008: Stipend at the 18th Saxony Graphic Arts Symposium, Leipzig
- 2001: Stipend at Künstlerhaus Schwalenberg, Schwalenberg
- 1997: Stipend at Schloss Moritzburg, Moritzburg
- 1991: 1st Price by the Afghan Artist Group Hakim Naser Khesraw Balkhi
- 1990: 1st Price by the Afghan Ministry of Culture
- 1989: 1st Price by the Afghan Ministry of Culture
- Julia Thieke: Zwischen Lapislazuli und Lithium. Künstlerportrait Aatifi. In: Kunst & Material [magazine], 2016.
- Martina Bauer (Ed.): Aatifi – News from Afghanistan [exhibition catalogue], Kerber Verlag, 2015.
- Kunstverein Zwickau e.V. (Ed.): Internationales Grafiksymposium Zwickau Zebra 5. [exhibition catalogue] 2013.
- The Graphic Arts Museum of Schreiner Foundation (Ed.): Von Kaiserblau bis Luxusschwarz. [exhibition catalogue] Verlag Grafik Museum Stiftung Schreiner, 2011.
- Friederike Schir, Reiner Kuhn, Manuel Schroeder, Inga Schubert-Hartmann (Eds.): METAKOM. [exhibition catalogue], Kettler, 2011.
- Artist's website
- Exhibition details about 'Aatifi - News from Afghanistan' on the website of the Museum für Islamische Kunst
- Elke Vogel, 'Die fünf Ausstellungstipps der Woche', art Das Kunstmagazin, online-edition, 2. Juli 2015
- Bauer, Martine (2015). Aatifi. News from Afganistan. Bielefeld: Kerber Verlag. p. 124. ISBN 9783735601148.
- Stefan Weber: Strangeness-Familiarity and Dynamism – Aesthetics and Cultural Background in Aatifi's Works In: Martina Bauer (ed.): Aatifi – News from Afghanistan. Catalogue, Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld/Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-7356-0114-8, p. 15.
- Janina Strathmeier: On the Origin of Explosive Colourfulness: The Balance between Tradition and Modernity in Art, In: Martina Bauer (ed.): Aatifi – News from Afghanistan. Catalogue, Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld/Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-7356-0114-8, p. 74.
- "Gib mir Fünf! - Ausstellungstipps: Die fünf Ausstellungstipps der Woche - [ART]". 2017-01-02. Retrieved 2018-06-03.
- kna. "Ein Schönschreiber: Aatifi stellt auf der Museumsinsel aus" (in Deutsch). Retrieved 2018-06-03.
- "Der Zufall der Ästhetik (neues deutschland)" (in Deutsch). Felix Langhammer, Axel Gebauer; WARENFORM http://www.warenform.net. Retrieved 2018-06-03.
- Krüger, Heike. "Der Bielefelder Künstler Aatifi ist derzeit im Berliner Pergamonmuseum zu sehen". Stern der Woche (in Deutsch). Retrieved 2018-06-03.
- "News From Afghanistan - tip berlin". tip berlin (in Deutsch). 2015-07-02. Retrieved 2018-06-03.
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