Dia Al-Azzawi: an Exile Looks at His Homeland from a Distance
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Dia al-Azzawi is an Iraqi artist, born in Baghdad in 1939, exiled in London since 1976. He has not returned to Iraq since then, but, in all these years, he has never stopped using his works to speak of the conflicts that afflict his homeland and, more generally, the Middle East. Sensitive to injustice, Azzawi feels obliged as an artist and intellectual to give a voice to those who don’t have one, to speak of and provoke reflections on what is happening in Arab countries. One of his famed paintings is Sabra and Shatila Massacre (1982-1983), inspired by the massacre that took place in Lebanon, but also My Broken Dream, a colossal monochromatic work dedicated to recent dramatic events in his country. Educated as an archeologist, he brings his love for ancient history to his artistic work, Arab calligraphy and Babylonian symbols, as shown by his recent works, now on display at the Meem Gallery in Dubai. Acrylic on canvas works with vivacious colours featuring some characteristic elements, such as references to the Arab world, as well as an interest in form and architecture. On display as well are numerous engravings created in 2018 but based on drawings originally created by the artist in the ‘70s to accompany a commemorative volume of stories by the famed Palestinian writer and political activist Ghassan Kanafani. The Man Who Died Not, the name of the series, represents a profound and painful reflection on the concept of being without a Country.