Iraqi Artists Featured in “Exiles” March 11-April 11, 2011

exiles-flyer-475img_assist_custom1.jpgDate/Time:Mar 11 2011 6:00pm – 10:00pm
Price:Free to the public. Free refreshments. Cash bar available.
Where:Inside/Outside Gallery, Levantine Cultural Center
5998 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90035
between La Cienega Blvd. & Fairfax Ave.
street parking or in the CVS lot across the street (till 10 only)
“Exiles” exhibition runs March 11-April 11, 2011EXILES, a new exhibition featuring two Iraqi artists will open at the Levantine Cultural Center’s Inside/Outside Gallery with a reception for the artists on March 11, 2011, 6-10:00 pm, 5998 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90035. Exiles features Paul Batou and Faris Al-Saffar, exiled Iraqis whose art explores life in their native land. The two-man show runs through April 11, 2011.

Superimposing Arabic calligraphy over his images, Paul Batou’s paintings combine poetry with imagery that reflect on themes of life during the Mesopotamian civilization. Through the use of acrylic and oils on canvas, and using a rich and warm neutral palette, his paintings tell stories of joy, sadness and love, and the reflections of his life.

“Minor Dream” by Paul BatouSays Batou, “My colors are united in one piece reflecting the tone of the Earth, the language of the universe, the cry and pain of the oppressed people. On my canvas, the black, red and white are in harmony just like my soul. I would love all people to achieve that kind of unity.”

Faris Al-Saffar’s works are bright, colorful and playful. Using mixed media and ink, the works include imagery of Baghdad and subjects from Al-Saffar’s experience of children’s songs, impressions of nature, visits to local mosques and much more. With humor and irreverence the artist portrays his city in a very cheerful and merry manner. Similar to Batou, Al-Saffar also employs calligraphy, but in a more nontraditional way that has a distinct graphic and angular style.

“Minor Dream” by Paul Batou

About the Artists
Paul Batou, a native Iraqi artist, received a degree in pharmacy in 1982 from the University of Baghdad. Although initially interested in art, he did not apply to art school in Baghdad because the school was not open to non-members of the Ba’athist Party. Inspired by many teachers and artists at the University, Batou had his first art show in 1980. His work was featured in several galleries up until 1982 when he was forced to work in the army as a pharmacist and a medic for five years during the Iran-Iraq war. After the war ended in 1989 Batou and his family fled Iraq and moved to the U.S. In 2007 Batou’s first book was published, My Last Thoughts About Iraq, a compilation of stories and poems about war, invasions, sanctions and the decline of the Mesopotamian civilization. Batou lives in Los Angeles where he continues to create art and write poems.

“Camels” by Faris Al-Saffarcivil engineer under Saddam who was forced to work on a secret long-

“Camels” by Faris Al-SaffarFaris Al-Saffar, formerly a civil engineer under Saddam who was forced to work on a secret long-range missile program, fled across Iraqi Republican Guard lines into the hands of Allied Forces during the first Gulf War. He was taken prisoner and spent a year and a half in a Saudi Arabian detainee camp in the desert with over 100,000 other Iraqi POWs, before receiving political asylum in the U.S. in 1993. Al-Saffar has exhibited drawings in solo and group exhibits since 1984, in both Iraq and the United States. In 2008 he exhibited works in “Memorial for Mutannabi Street” at the Newport Beach Library, and in 2009 his exhibit Baghdadism appeared at the Inside/Outside gallery. Al-Saffar has worked as a special effects artist for Disney, including on such films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules and The Legend of Mulan.

“The Forbidden Towers” by Faris Al-SaffarAbout the Inside/Outside Gallery
Addressing a void in the American art world, Inside/Outside Gallery is the first gallery in the United States to specialize in presenting contemporary Arab/Middle Eastern artists. Inside/Outside seeks to challenge Orientalist stereotypes by providing the general public with both a physical and online location to view/appreciate art that is representative of the diversity and evolving cultural identity of the Arab/Muslim world and its growing diaspora.