A visual arts exhibition opened in the Iraqi capital Baghdad is considered to be the largest for visual arts in the whole of the country.
Several fields of art have experienced regression over the past two decades in Iraq due to security crises involving terrorist groups and the lack of financing allocated to cultural initiatives, due to pressing issues such a reconstruction of infrastructure and the return of displaced people to their homes. Nevertheless, The Gulbenkian Hall, located in the centre of Baghdad, has breathed new life into the arts scene in the Iraqi capital city, especially for those involved in the visual arts. Over 450 visual art works were presented at the Gulbenkian Hall, attracting a large number of visitors.
“The exhibition includes excellent paintings from an authentic and traditional Iraqi school. There are also sculptures and materials made of ceramics representing the history of Iraq. Ceramics, pottery, and sculptures are an Iraqi feature”, noted Abdul Amir al-Hamdani, the Minister of Culture, who attended the exhibition at Gulbenkian Hall.
The visual arts exhibition presented thematic works that portrayed symbolic meanings with connections to Iraq culture, history and social issues. The exhibition showed that art can be used in Iraq to portray meaningful messages to society in innovative ways.
“We are at the dawn of a new phase in the field of visual arts. These attendees, exhibitions, and lectures are proof that a new spirit and life are returning to visual arts in Iraq”, remarked Ali Uwaid, the Chairman of the Department of Visual Arts.
Cultural events and initiatives have been organised all across Iraq especially in areas that were formerly under the control of ISIS in order to reinvigorate and develop the cultural scene in the country. For instance, initiatives such as the “Book Forum” have been launched in Mosul, notorious for being the centre of ISIS rule for approximately three years, and the “Pavement of Culture” in Hamdaniyah, in order to spread reading culture, an antidote to the totalitarianism of the terrorism experienced by the city.