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Art in Iraq Today, organized by Solidere, Meem Gallery and Rula Alami Zaki and curated by Dia Al-Azzawi and Charles Pocock, brings together the works of a group of Iraqi artists with varying working methodologies, whom are united in their experience of exile. One of the major aims of this project is to highlight the enduring talent of contemporary Iraqi artists despite the circumstances that have forced them to relocate to various parts of the globe. Seeing that the artists included in this exhibition spent their formative years in Iraq, and have been profoundly shaped by such experiences, their work carries within it, along with their experience of exile, traces of what contemporary art in Iraq might have been today. Art in Iraq Today should therefore be seen as more emblematic than literal in its message. The title also needs to be understood in the context of the project’s inception, which is dedicated to the memory of pre-eminent art critic Jabra Ibrahim Jabra and his seminal essay about modern Iraqi art, titled ‘Art in Iraq Today’ (1961).
Presently, nothing in Iraq remains that can relate to the movements established by the modern art pioneers and the legacies of the Pioneers Group, Baghdad Group of Modern Art, New Vision Group, and what was expressed in Jabra Ibrahim Jabra’s essay. All this can only be found in the work of displaced artists; it remains alive in their hearts and minds, wherever they may reside. What we hope to demonstrate through this project is that Iraq’s modern cultural legacy lives on ideologically. Indeed, the history of modern Iraqi art, as documented in Jabra’s essays, lives and breathes in the artists and the works that comprise this exhibition.
The exhibition was first launched at Meem Gallery, Dubai, as a five-part series, from October 2010 – May 2011. The display includes works by Modhir Ahmed, Dia Al-Azzawi, Amar Dawod, Ghassan Ghaib, Ali Jabbar, Halim Al-Karim, Nedim Kufi, Hanaa Malallah, Rafa Al-Nasiri, Mahmoud Obaidi, Kareem Risan, Delair Shaker, Ali Talib, and Nazar Yahya.