“Absent Artworks” from Mosul

Junaid Al-Fakhri
Junaid Al-Fakhri, untitled, wood and oil on leather, 40 x 25 x 35 cm. This hand-painted wooden box encased in natural leather is the work of Mosul archaeologist Junaid Al-Fakhri. The images reference a relief sculpture and wall paintings from the Northwest Palace at Nimrud. King Ashurnasirpal II painted on the top is surrounded by winged angelic bodies and the sacred tree of life. Al-Fakhri lost most of his belongings and nearly all of his artworks in the fighting to liberate Mosul from ISIS, with the exception of this box made 25 years ago. (above)
Hussein Al-Ali
Hussein Ali Ahmed, “Rise to the Sky”, mixed paints on a white t-shirt, 40 x 30 cm. This vivid painting which depicts the movement and energy of Sufi dance was made during the ISIS occupation of Mosul using the only materials the artist could find, his white t-shirt as the canvas and pigments mixed with plaster for the paint. (above)
Mohammad Dyaalden, “Assyrian Cart”, metal sculpture, 30 x 60 cm. A metalwork typical of Mosul. (above)
Bilal Rakan Dabdoub
Bilal Rakan Dabdoub, “Al-Khader Mosque”, Oil on Canvas, 40 x 30 cm. This artwork reflects Mosul’s 12th-century Al-Khader Mosque or the Green Mosque and its surrounding area in the early 1950s.
 Ilaf Adil
Elaf Adil, “Mosul 2014-2017”, 2017, digital art on A4. This artwork was created by Adil, a 28-year-old dentist, and illustrator, in March 2017 as her city of Mosul was being liberated from ISIS. The work reflects her feelings of what happened to the city in those three dark years in which she was also forced to flee, the blood of its residents mixed with remnants of destroyed homes and lives, the lost antiquities and the burned libraries. And yet it’s hopeful in the raising of the Iraqi flag again in Mosul after its liberation and the chance for the city to rebuild, for residents to return to their lives and to reunite with their families and neighbors. (above)
Sara Sabah
Sarah Sabah Sheto, “The Great Al-Tahra Church”, 2017, oil on canvas, 50 x 80 cm. Considered one of the oldest churches in Iraq and located in the historic Christian town of Qaraqosh just east of Mosul, Al-Tahra Church was ransacked and desecrated by ISIS, which occupied the area from August 2014 until late 2016, expelling its Christian residents. The artwork was part of the show “Return”, the first exhibit in Qaraqosh post-ISIS. Today, cultural events are slowly happening again in the town and some of its residents are returning, although with great hesitation. (above)
Osama Ayad, “Back to Life”, 2017, oil on canvas, 120 x 60 cm. The last in a series of three paintings. A portrait of the leaning Al Hadba’ Minaret, one of Mosul’s best-known monuments and a landmark of the city, was painted before its demolition by ISIS in June 2017 while fighting was underway to liberate the city from the group. The green wheat stalk following Al Hadba’s slope symbolizes the fertility of Nineveh Province—to which Mosul belongs—known as Iraq’s breadbasket. The colorful lights in the city’s buildings at left are working to overtake the darkness of the right side, like the daybreak at dawn. (above)