The ressurection of Art

31 May, '03

new statue replaces Saddam'sAs if it was ever dead? It might by necessity hide for a while but never dies, even in the most hostile environments you will find art flourishing. Look at Iraq: intermittent electricity, untreated water, medical services on the blink, people without jobs, without steady income, but with all of these predicaments we have a group of artists erecting a new statue in place of that despot’s. This statue symbolizes two great civilizations: the Sumarians and Islam.

Although art is no where near the top of the list Iraqis have on their minds, it is vitally important as it maintains the people’s pride, preserve their real heritage, and gives them a glimmer of hope that no American tank or presence can.

In all conflicts the “puppet” art is the first to be replaced like breaths of much needed fresh air, maybe that will remind people in the next few difficult months and years that life will go on and become much better than what was left behind. So in a way, Art is the first stage of reconciliation for a broken country and society, the first flower of spring.

We don’t have enough artistic impressions in our countries, we tend to wait for catastrophic events to happen and then real artists shine and bring their thoughts to the fore. Those puppet art creators invariably fade away like their creations with loss of face and respect. You can immediately recognize that kind of art and artists. They – like their work – look very temporary and insignificant. Art that endures even catastrophes is invariably that creation that speaks directly to the soul.

I am one of the fortunate ones who can appreciate art, my dad being one of the founding fathers of art in this area of the world. True he didn’t follow the stampede of others in the ’70s and ’80s to buy land and build buildings, he was more concerned with building generations and preserving history. He continues to be an inspiration even now after 9 years of losing his sight completely, he overcomes his disability and continues to produce thought inspiring etchings, using only his fingers for feel, and his soul for vision.

The “Najin” (survivors) group of artists in Iraq have all my respect. They should be encouraged, nurtured and protected, for they are the real keepers of the scrolls of Iraqi dignity and history.

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