Thursday, October 4, 2012

He was a human being- that's enough

Mohammed, our dear friend and advisor (and many other things) changed schools last week. He is an English teacher in a primary school here in Sulaimani. He moved to a school that has many Kurdish students who have spent a lot of their lives outside of Iraqi Kurdistan and now have moved back with their families. So he is teaching English to students who only speak German (for example). Of course he does have Kurdish speaking students and some who already have a very good grasp of English.

Anyway, he came to us in the morning with the news that there was to be an art exhibition at the Amna Suraka museum (formerly Sadaam's prison). The artist, Lass Jalal  was a 17 year old former student of his new school. The title of the exhibition was intriguing,"Damn to War'.

As we entered the hall we could not miss the lively attendees. They obviously were fellow students of Lass. A young man was playing rock music on an electric guitar to the accompaniment of screams from adoring fans! It really took me back to my days of high school.

Soon after we began to look at the art pieces: oil, water colours and acrylics, a student brought over the artist. He introduced himself and offered to tell us the story behind any work that interested us.

He explains "A Scream in Silence"

The pamphlet about the exhibition stated,: "this is Lass Jalal's first solo exhibitions. The main idea of the exhibition is about finding beauty in negative places and finding peace with things that have almost destroyed the survived one (s). He says "light is everywhere but it's almost invisible, so let's try to see it." He sees Thalassemia and cancer as a war and he tries the best of himself to make a change..."

Lass told us his thoughts behind many of his painting. Unfortunately I did not have a notebook along so I can't remember most of them.  He had an incredible depth of thought and understanding far beyond his young years. He said that he had not had any formal training in art but felt moved to try to paint about 2 years ago.

As he explained this work to me he told of a young man who had been very ill and died. I thought he had said that the young man had been his friend and asked him to clarify. He replied," no, he was not my friend. He was a human being and that is enough."  Some of the works were behind glass so the spots are glare of the lights in the hall.

This work was the most realistic of all of his paintings. When I asked him about it he said that he really did not like to paint realism. He enjoys abstract art much more.

A tree falls in love with the moon.
"Forever Together"
It was a pleasure to spend part of our afternoon seeing Lass Jalal's first solo exhibition. If this is the work he can produce in the first 2 years of working with the mediums. I would expect that the art world of Iraqi Kurdistan or even further may see more of him in the future.

All paintings are reproduced here with the permission of the artist.

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