In 2002 after the Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, fifty world re-known Middle Eastern artists accepted the Lebanese people’s request to commemorate their defeat against the two decade occupation of Southern Lebanon by the Israeli army. This commemoration was part of the healing
process for the people of Southern Lebanon. In doing so the Lebanese people were able to turn a negative experience into a positive.
Among the artists from Iraq were Omran Al-Kaysi, Himet Mohamed Ali, and Abbas Al-Kathem who was the only one whose conceptual work was destroyed by the same army which occupied Lebanon.
Abbas Al-Kathem was born in Baghdad in 1954. He studied art in the Fine Art Institute of Baghdad and also in Rome, Italy during 1976-1978. He organized an art show titled, Voices Among Us and between 1994 and 1995 he worked as a director for Decorative Art (The Global Village), which consisted of voluntary work etc. and the list goes on.
Abbas Al-Kathem is one of the many Iraqi artist who still lives in exile after fleeing Saddam Hussein’s regime and adopted Denmark as his second homeland.
Abbas Al-Kathem’s work stood out from other art work due to the fact that it was a conceptual work created by utilizing the Khan Prison sun-room where the prisoners were able to see and feel the daylight. By doing this Al-Kathem took two elements and added these to the empty space in the sun-room. To do this AL-Kathem set two rows of prison cots and aligned them in the center of the room, then constructed a soldier’s shadow by using cloth laying flat on the room’s cage wires, which gives the viewer the sense that the Israeli soldier is monitoring from above. By omitting the prisoners in the artwork, Al-Kathem give the artwork an eerie feeling. Despite the fact that the artwork was destroyed along with the Khiam prison in 2006 by the Israeli Defense Force, the work will remain immeded in the everyone’s heart and mind for eternity and this is what makes this artwork a masterpiece.
note: The Farhat Art Museum Collection started with the Khiam Collectionhttp://www.farhatartmuseum.info