The exhibit runs through Wednesday, open to the public from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. free of charge at the Media Hall in Erbil. Photos: AC Robinson/Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Artists from the greater Kurdistan region and abroad came together to share messages of peace, inspiration, and hope at the first Kurdistan Modern Artists Group Exhibition which began in Erbil on Sunday.
“Our message for the exhibition is that we want to tell all that art is for the sake of peace,” said Hawkar Rskin, coordinator of the exhibition.
Rskin believes that there is too much pain from conflicts in the Kurdistan Region, Iraq and across the world and hopes that the exhibition will encourage peace and positive messages within the community.
“From Kurdistan, we have more experience with conflict. This has a negative effect on artists and others,” he said. “I want to improve this situation.”
He has been an artist for 20 years and curated the Modern Arts exhibition to introduce new techniques and art forms to the Kurdish community as well as young aspiring artists who study at art colleges or institutes.
“Traditional and classic art is more common because it is part of Kurdistan and until now there is no art museum like they have in Western countries,” he said.
“We want to mix the modern collection for students at art institutes, especially new students,” he explained. “Maybe they just study traditional styles or classic art and don’t have an idea about new modern art. They are not free.”
The exhibition showcased work from 20 different artists from across the Kurdistan Region, Iraq, Iran, and Syria as well as England.
One local artist, Rizgar Faqe Awla, is also a teacher at the Fine Arts Institute located at Salahaddin University in Erbil.
Local artist Rizgar Faqe Awla
“I have showcased two of my paintings; one of them contains pessimism, the other optimism. This is to strike a balance between the two concepts,” he said, adding that the exhibition offers new experiences since he is participating alongside Kurdish artists from all corners of greater Kurdistan. “This will help us to get to know each other personally as well as on an artistic level.”
Another local artist, Shara Baban, was showing an abstract piece that she says represents the situation of all four parts of Kurdistan.
Local artist Shara Baban
“My personal message, and the whole of this exhibition, is for peace and freedom, not only for Kurds but people all over the world,” she said.
Faisal Osman is a graduate from the Fine Arts Institute in Baghdad.
“This is a very nice event,” he said. “It’s a very good exhibition for modern artists.”
Tracy Fenton, Manchester artist and teacher at the University of Kurdistan-Hawler
Tracy Fenton, an artist from Manchester, UK and art teacher at the University of Kurdistan-Hawler also participated in the exhibition. She trains students in holistic, or healing, art along with her assistant Kate who is also from the UK.
Fenton said they often visit refugee and IDP camps and had three pieces of artwork showcased at the exhibition in recognition for what’s going on in this region.
“How I see the hundreds and hundreds of people when we go to refugee camps or IDP camps. When we see everybody stuck together, it’s just the multitude and I specifically use different canvases to represent that,” she said describing her artwork. “There’s an oval canvas, there’s a small canvas, there’s a large canvas but it’s all about the people huddled together.”
Artwork by Tracy Fenton
The exhibition attracted not only art students, but also art and cultural enthusiasts. A class of fourth graders from an international school was also able to visit the exhibition.
“I think it is so nice because the artists do it by themselves and they think about what colors they like,” said one fourth grade student, Seeban. She said she enjoys drawing and hopes to have her own artwork displayed one day.
Kamaran Ahmad, director of the French Institute in Erbil, visited the exhibition and said they are always looking forward to work with people in regards to Kurdish culture.
“We are interested to progress the arts in Kurdistan and invite French people to come and work with Kurdish artists here,” Ahmad said, adding that there was a big difference between artists here and culture in France, but hopes to see the two coordinate in the future.
The Kurdish Modern Art exhibition, which is sponsored by the Hawkar Group Kurdish Art & Culture Bridge will run through Wednesday, open to the public from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. free of charge at the Media Hall in Erbil.