“Few artists have captured the decimation of Iraqi life by the American-led invasion and by previous conflicts as consistently as Hanaa Malallah (b. 1958), who observed the wrecking of her country in one war after another until she finally left three years into the occupation.” – Amin Alsaden
ArtForum’s article “UNVANQUISHED: Amin Alsaden on Iraq’s art under two decades of occupation” features Hanaa Malallah and her artworks.
Amin Alsaden states “few artists have captured the decimation of Iraqi life by the American-led invasion and by previous conflicts as consistently as Hanaa Malallah Malallah.” He describes her art work “Shroud IV” (2012), the cover image of the article as resembling “a landscape that that has been ruined by a blazing fire.” This artwork, a wall installation, is created using her “Ruins Technique,” a manner of working involving burning and damaging her works, which she has developed since the 1980s. Alsaden states there “is an underlying order, a grid of sorts, that modulates the unwieldy pouches of scorched and twisted canvas. Inside the folded fabric, and strewn in between, are little lumps of soil, seeds, small twigs, fragments of amulets, and even parts of taxidermied birds that seem to have been embalmed for some impenetrable burial ritual. This piece speaks to the indiscriminate fury of war, but I also see it as connoting the senseless erosion of the organically and painstakingly built artistic culture of Iraq—a deterioration that Malallah, as a participant in and beneficiary of that culture, witnessed.”
The article begins with the July 14th Monument, known as the Liberty Monument by artist Jewad Selim (1920–1961) and architect Rifat Chadirji (1926–2020) and its completion after Iraq’s 1958 coup d’état, the July 14th Revolution and the generations of Modernists such as Shaker Hassan al Said (1926–2004). It also mentions the Iraqi diaspora artists such as Mehdi Moutashar (b. 1943-) and Suad Al Attar (b.1942-). It concludes with reflections on the current state of Iraq and its artistic culture.
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