From 13 May–27 June 2013 the Meem Gallery Dubai hosts the exhibition ‘Modern Iraqi Art: A Collection’.
With all the – just – attention for Iranian art in the Gulf maybe it is time for a comprehensive approach on Iraq’s art. Iran through its language has always been a strong autonomous cultural entity, but due to the quite impregnable natural barriers surrounding it, Iraq just as well has had a self-sufficient cultural evolution. Meanwhile, like Iran, Iraq was at many international crossroads and always drew from other cultures, and gave to them.
Recent history has not been kind to Iraq, but now there is a time to make the cultural balance, and the Gulf maybe the right place for starting to do so.
From the Meem Gallery’s press information: [the gallery] is pleased to present an extensive collection of works, including paintings and mixed-media compositions, by modern and contemporary Iraqi artists. Modern Iraqi Art: A Collection takes viewers through the decades of Iraq’s modern and contemporary art production. The exhibition represents the creative output of three generations of artists, starting with the work of modern masters such as Faiq Hassan who, with Jewad Selim, pioneered the country’s modern art scene and forged an artistic identity specific to Iraq. Second generation ‘pioneer’ artists like Dia Azzawi, Shakir Hassan Al Said and Ismail Fattah, who encouraged a pan-Arab focus for art during the late-1960s and 1970s, as well as a more theoretical approach to art-making, also feature in this collection. Completing the display is the work of the ‘eighties generation’ of artists, including Hanaa Malallah, Halim Karim and Mahmoud Obaidi, who were taught by the previous generation at the Institute and Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad, and bring with them an aesthetic that is rooted in Iraq’s cultural heritage but simultaneously affected by the experience of exile.
The artists represented in the exhibition have work in important regional and international collections such as the Museums of Modern Art in Baghdad, Damascus and Tunis; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman; British Museum, Tate Modern and Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, and Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah. Modern Iraqi Art follows a series of Iraqi art shows by the gallery: Dia Azzawi (2009, solo exhibition), Art in Iraq Today (2010–11, five-part series), and the recent Elegy To My Trapped City (displaying Azzawi’s mural-sized painting, 2012). Additionally, this year the Arab League and UNESCO announced Baghdad as the Arab Capital of Culture. Modern Iraqi Art: A Collection will be accompanied by a catalogue of the works held in the collection.’
For a broader perspective also see the selection of modernist paintings including modernist Iraqi art that is currently still on show at the RE: ORIENT exhibition in the Barjeel foundation in Sharjah.