His latest art series was presented in the Bonsai Greenhouse room of the RJB-CSIC, in which each canvas reveals a story told by a protagonist of the classic and universal tale of The Thousand and One Nights

Hanoos presents his poetic vision of Shahrezade and the Thousand and One Nights at the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid

Pintor iraquí Hanoos Hanoos (PHOTO/ATALAYAR)
Iraqi painter Hanoos Hanoos (PHOTO/ATALAYAR)

Shahrezade is the main protagonist and narrator of the traditional and universal collection of tales entitled The Thousand and One Nights. The daughter of the grand vizier of Shahriar who offers herself to the sultan of this Persian kingdom to appease his anger, the result of the deception suffered by his first wife, has also been a source of inspiration in plays, films, comics and cartoons, television series, the symphonic suite of the Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov or pictorial works. 

  1. The importance of colour 
  2. More about the artist 
  3. Practical information 

One of these artistic proposals, that provided by Hanoos Hanoos (Kufa, Iraq 1958) is now being presented at the Royal Botanical Garden (RJB) of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in an exhibition entitled 'Shahrezade and the Arabian Nights', in which the artist offers the spectator his poetic and personal vision of this Arabian work which, as the artist himself acknowledges, is not easy to represent.

"The series Shahrezade and the Arabian Nights is my most recent work. It develops the stories inside, life takes place inside the canvas, it is not meant to be seen but on the contrary, the characters are immersed in their own daily lives. Immutable, they rub against each other in proximity and at the same time remain absorbed in their own events, a circumstance that is corroborated by the fact that many of them literally have their backs to the spectator, but I hope that they awaken curiosity to reveal their particular framework", explains Hanoos. 

Shahrezade y las noches árabes N.º 31 T.M. sobre lienzo, 2022. © Hanoos Hanoos
Shahrezade and the Arabian Nights No. 31 T.M. on canvas, 2022. © Hanoos Hanoos

The importance of colour 

In addition to the composition, shapes and nuances, the viewer will be captivated by the colour of these works. "Colour has the power to highlight or hide parts of the story, it plays with the observer and at the same time directs him, it gives succession to the story, inviting him to continue his reading at another point in the painting. The colours delimit and present micro-stories and we can say that they are the equivalent of frames for the composition of a film, but here, seen simultaneously on the same plane provided by the canvas", says the artist. 

Shahrezade y las noches árabes N.º 8 T.M. sobre lienzo, 2022. © Hanoos Hanoos
Shahrezade and the Arabian Nights No. 8 T.M. on canvas, 2022. © Hanoos Hanoos 

About his painting, the Egyptian poet Ahmad Yamani, resident in Spain since 2001, has written that, "it subtly takes place in an everyday environment where life rises, transforming itself into sublime thought. His sources of inspiration are the distant past of his native land, and the near past that represents the heritage of European art, where the Eastern and the Western coexist in a first-class artistic mix". 

The opening of the exhibition was attended by the Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq in Spain, Salih Hussain Ali, and the Director of the Royal Botanical Garden-CSIC, María-Paz Martín. The director of the RJB-CSIC valued in her speech the character of Shahrezade, "an example of an intelligent, brave and pacifist woman; a real heroine" and, in the same way, she highlighted the artistic work of Hanoos. 

De izda. a dcha., el artista Hanoos, el embajador de Iraq, Salih Hussain Ali, y la directora del RJB-CSIC, María-Paz Martín. © Encarna García | RJB-CSIC
From left to right, the artist Hanoos, the ambassador of Iraq, Salih Hussain Ali, and the director of the RJB-CSIC, María-Paz Martín. © Encarna García | RJB-CSIC 

"Hanoos has been able to transmit in his work the passing of days and nights, the everyday life of the characters of The Thousand and One Nights, and of his tales; many talking to each other and mixing characters from the East and the West. Everything flows naturally, like the relationship between King Shariyar and Shahrezade, after six months of stories, in which a mutual respect begins", said María-Paz Martín. 

More about the artist 

Painter, engraver and teacher, Hanoos Hanoos holds a degree and doctorate in Fine Arts from the Complutense University of Madrid. In 1974 he began his undergraduate studies at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad, finishing in 1979. After travelling to Italy and Europe, he entered the Faculty of Fine Arts in Madrid in 1984. In 1991 he obtained his doctorate on the work of Al Wasiti, graduating cum laude.  

He has also studied History of Art and Aesthetics. He has had forty solo exhibitions, more than a hundred group exhibitions, has won several grants, including one from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Hispano-Arabic Institute, and has won more than forty painting prizes. 

Hanoos' work is exhibited in several museums of different public and private institutions, both in Spain and in other countries. A Spanish national, he has lived in Madrid since 1981, where he works as a visual artist and teacher. He is also a great reader of poetry and world literature, and is a member of the editorial board of Banipal, a journal of modern Arabic literature. 

The Chilean painter and audiovisual artist Tomás Benavente has indicated that, "Hanoos invites us not to lose the craft of painting, which seems to be in decline, and to look beyond academic art, where novelty is lacking and repetition abounds. To think like a true artist, not just a painter. A task that can take a lifetime". 

Shahrezade y las noches árabes Nº 14 T.M. sobre lienzo, 2022. © Hanoos Hanoos
Shahrezade and the Arabian Nights No. 14 T.M. on canvas, 2022. © Hanoos Hanoos

Practical information 

Activity: Painting exhibition Shahrezade and the Arabian Nights of Hanoos Hanoos 

Place: Sala Invernadero de los Bonsáis. Royal Botanical Garden 

Dates: 19.01-10.03.2024 

Timetables: 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (January and February) | 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (March) 

Aimed at: general public

Price: free admission to the exhibition on payment of the corresponding entrance fee to the Botanic Garden.