Born to Be a Moody Think Piece

Ahmed Alsoudani's (2007), charcoal pastel andacrylic on paper. Photo: Image courtesy of the artist and Thierry Goldberg Projects,
New York.

Sure, "The Atrocity Exhibition," up at Thierry Goldberg Projects through July 28, may be the thematic Debbie Downer of summer shows — especially when compared to whimsical uppers like Smith Stewart's exhibition "She Was Born to Be My Unicorn." But dark and gloomy though they may be, the works (mostly large-scale paintings and small-ish sculptures of amorphous mushroom clouds) warrant a closer look. Iraqi-born, Yale-trained artist Ahmed Alsoudani is showing this enormous, intricate Guernica-esque abstraction, among others. Despite having fled Baghdad after the first Gulf War, Alsoundani can't seem to shake disastrous images from home. He cleverly applies a Western aesthetic to a presumably Middle Eastern setting, creating a sadly universal theme. Look, think, discuss (war at home? War abroad?), and brace yourself for happy hour. —Rachel Wolff