Fine artist Shaddad Abdul Qahhar belongs to the 1980s generation of artists. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad in 1985 and is now one of the most prominent artists in Iraq, and according to those in the industry, he is also one of the most talented and capable portrait artists.
Abdul Qahhar held his 8th personal exhibition under the title "A Lecture in Aesthetics," which was inaugurated early this month at Madarat Hall in Baghdad. Paintings depicting the female body and its form covered the walls of the hall.
Mawtani met Abdul Qahhar in Baghdad for an interview.
Mawtani: What is the idea behind your paintings that depict the female body?
Shaddad Abdul Qahhar: I have dealt with the topic of the body in a certain technique, which is relatively new compared to my previous works of art. The exhibition featured 10 paintings and three sculptures, and dealt with the same topic: aesthetic treatment of a woman's body.
There are paintings containing only faces and others containing half bodies. Here I am expressing a certain feeling that was created inside me and forced me to embody it. However, the technique is still the same in all paintings. The difference here is in the execution in the faces, body, or half bodies, which all symbolize the human being. The body of a human being has been dealt with in an artistic way since the classic era up to our day. However, here I am presenting the body of a woman.
Mawtani: Some consider your paintings to be scandalous. Is this true?
Abdul Qahhar: I have dealt with the woman's body in an expressive way. This type of expressionism has been dealt with by each country in its own way. The most famous, perhaps, was German expressionism, followed by French, Italian, and Russian expressionism. There are many countries that used different forms of expressionism, but I tried as much as I could to have my own.
Mawtani: Can you explain some of your artistic choices, such as the sculptures of women's bodies without heads and with amputated legs or the body with wings as if it is going up to heaven?
Abdul Qahhar: This question will take us to the issue related to the name of exhibition. I was planning to call it "Wars and the Body," but some friends -- artists, painters, and intellectuals -- objected to the word "wars." That word has now become a hated word.
I found they were right in their objection, especially as the word "wars" has now become heavy for the Iraqi audiences who suffered a lot. I then thought about it and said as long as I planned to present beauty, why should I not call it "A Lecture in Aesthetics"?
Mawtani: What other shows have you participated in?
Abdul Qahhar: I have participated in a large number of local, Arab, and international exhibitions in London, Paris, La Rochelle, Vienna, China, Jordan, Muscat, Tunisia, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates.
I won the golden medal of Contemporary Iraqi Art in 1996, silver medal of Contemporary Iraqi Art in 1993, Artists Union award in 1992 and 1993, First Portrait award in 1988, Miró First award in 2004, Art Day award in 2000, Babil Festival award in 1998, and the Innovation Award in 1992.
PHOTO: [Mahmood al-Mulhim/Mawtani] Shaddad Abdul Qahhar's exhibition focuses on the aesthetic of the woman's body.