Where would you find your country? your city?
In this surrealist world with its real politics, everything is possible. That is what happened to Iraq: its people and cities. A fine artist, Hanaa Malallah, carefully illustrates this in her skilfully compiled abstract map. Symbolism has its strong effect here, represented by images of burning even in writing the names of the cities — after all, every city and the entire countryside was burnt by invasion and civil wars. Red and green oil colours represent Baghdad and Najaf respectfully—the holy Shia City. Red represents the red buses Baghdad is famous for. Green, however, represents the piece of cloth taken as a good omen by visitors to the shrines —this shade of green reflects the cover of the shrines of the imams buried in Najaf. Displacement and distortion affected cities as well as people. In Iraq Shias replaced Sunnis in the cities; e.g. Mosul v Najaf. The artist in her deep understanding of the political situation cleverly illustrates this grim reality. One can see how carefully she calculates her innovative abstract form of painting.
“Ruination is the essence of all being” are Malallah’s own words. She comes from Mesopotamia and its heritage, with four decades of war and destruction. She has developed her Ruin Technique to illustrate burning and destruction.
As Hanaa Malallah makes use of all scraps, she collected her own tickets in the 1990s when she used to go to the academy and the National Museum. Those hold special memory and represents how she was attached to the National Museum which was luted and destroyed thereafter.
You may well see the integration between both exhibitions and the symbolism of the red bus in her Map above and below in her third solo exhibition at the Park Gallery, London. It shows her work of the 1980s and 1990s, “From Figuration to Abstraction”.
She has developed the numbers technique for 30 years using mathematics, early Mesopotamian shapes, and Islamic charts. She is well supported by her MA in Semiotics besides her Ph.D. in Logic. She has “enjoyed the purity of numbers, and the protection afforded by its impenetrable languages”.
Represents not Hanaa’s physical self, but reflects her inner pain following wars, invasion and more destructions.
Hanaa Malallah: BA Fine Art; MA Semiotics; and PhD in Logic.
One of the main Iraqi artists who lived who lived during the war and occupation. She moved out of Iraq in 2007 and nowadays she lives between London and Manama-Bahrain where she an associate professor of art at the Royal University for Women.