tue 04/08/2020

Imagine: Iraq in Venice, BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews

Imagine: Iraq in Venice, BBC Two

Imagine: Iraq in Venice, BBC Two

A taut, informative documentary, but where were the Iraqi women artists?

Ahmed Akkoudani’s work is already selling at Christie's alongside the likes of Andy WarholBBC Pictures

For 35 years, contemporary art in Iraq was a no-no unless it was grimly, dully figurative or a gaudy mural glorifying Saddam Hussein. But this year, six Iraqi artists were invited to the most prestigious annual contemporary art event in the world; the Venice Biennale. It may be of little significance that Alan Yentob’s parents came from Iraq, but last night’s Imagine was probably the best of the series so far. Its focus may have been these artists and their art, but its reach was somehow much greater.

Share this article


I agree it is a pity there were no woman artists represented. I did do an interview with Harim Al Karim last year at the Dubai Art Fair and I am delighted that he is in Venice! I have put it on my site!

How bizarre that you describe figurative art as "dull" considering most of the world's cultures through most of its history have considered the figure a thrilling subject worthy of the highest accolades. I guess anything made before Post-Modernism - however you want to define it - is just a bit 'boring'?

Lian, I didn't read what Howard wrote as saying that. There's 'grimly, dully figurative' art and 'grimly, dully abstract' art (HM doesn't care for Ms Emin, for instance) - there's also plenty of 'splendidly, richly' etc examples of both. Figurative art at the service of a dictator, be it Saddam, Hitler or Stalin, is bound to be distorted.

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters