Iraqi-born artist Salam Omar recreates the multi-layered environment of a lone, anonymous sniper in “Missing,” his latest exhibition at Agial Art Gallery.

The exhibition offers a poignant breakdown of the intimate relationship between killer and victim in a strikingly personalized depiction of violence during the Lebanese civil war, which Omar himself experienced as a Beirut resident.

Omar, who graduated in 1982 from the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad, has made war a recurring theme in his work. Some of his earlier mixed media collages were inspired by the 2003 invasion of Iraq.



But this time, the artist introduces a complex architectural dimension to convey the deeper psychological reality of cold-blooded killing. Eight oeuvres, including one large installation built with concrete blocks and seven mixed-media artworks, occupy the exhibition space.

Omar’s artwork is based on actual photos taken of the Lebanese civil war, which he carefully Photoshopped before transferring to plexiglass using a silk screen printing technique. Each artwork was then cracked into multiple layers of plexiglass, and mixed with remains from actual buildings that snipers occupied during the war. The end result, is a 3D-like structure that blends photographic patterns and abstract art.

With these images, Omar tells the story of an invisible shooter who returns to the same building each day, hiding behind these layers of concrete and sandbags. And its through tiny incisions in the wall that the possibility of death becomes all the more real and possible.



“The lone sniper remains an allegory for absence: The absent victims that never returned home, the absent peace that never arrived, the absent fighter without a voice and without face," writes contemporary art writer and critic Arie Amaya-Akkermans about the installation.

“[Those people] are killing from a distance, distancing themselves from death as if they don’t feel it,” Lebanese art expert and owner of Agial Gallery, Saleh Barakat, told Beirut.com. “This exhibition is focused on…how those people held themselves behind many layers to protect themselves from the fact they were killing.”

Through the employment of physical remnants, the artist beautifully tests the boundaries between the abstract notion of violence and the realm of personal experience in a way we haven't seen before in the journey of post-war art in Lebanon.

“Missing” remains on exhibit at Agial Art Gallery, Hamra until October 25.

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