Dr Ala Bashir, Iraq’s most celebrated artist and a world-famous surgeon who was once Saddam Hussein’s personal physician.
Unlocking memories of home
Paintings by Dr Ala Bashir, Iraq’s most celebrated artist and a world-famous surgeon who was once Saddam Hussein’s personal physician, to be exhibited at Embrace Arts at the RA centre, University of Leicester
Issued on 02 March 2010
EXHIBITION DATES: MAY 15-JULY 4
After spending 20 years in the service of one of history’s most notorious dictators, the artwork of Dr Ala Bashir provides a chilling insight into the horror of Iraq’s recent history.
A new exhibition - to be shown for the first time in its entirety - will be showcased at Embrace Arts at the RA centre, the University of Leicester’s arts centre, from Saturday 15 May to Sunday 4 July 2010, with a special opening event on Friday 14 May.
Called ‘Recent Work: Memories of Keys’, the exhibition brings together Dr Bashir’s paintings of keys and also a number of his single-line drawings. He spoke of what the key symbolises for him:
“The meaning of home was my concern for many years, and became the prominent subject after I left Iraq. The search for a universal symbol or metaphor for home took me through lots of sideways - biological, social, ethnic, economic, historical and psychological aspects of human life. I found that the key might be used as a metaphor, rather than symbol, for home with all its controversies.”
Dr Bashir escaped from Iraq in 2003, and today he lives with his wife just outside of Nottingham. He exhibits all over the world and is a champion for the healing power of art in overcoming the horrors of war.
Stella Couloutbanis, acting Visual Art Manager at Embrace Arts, commented:
“Ala Bashir is a remarkable artist who has worked under difficult circumstances and conditions; his paintings and drawings are now are a reminder of his past and show his emotional journey and struggle to come to terms with the life he escaped from. Embrace Arts is honoured and proud to be exhibiting his artwork.
"His work is beautifully composed and executed; his paintings are vibrant in subject matter, expressing his feelings for home and safety, and his line drawings are simplistic but are beautifully composed.”
At the special event marking the exhibition’s opening on Friday 14 May 2010, Professor Douglas Tallack, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) and Head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Law at the University of Leicester, will interview Dr Bashir about his art and experiences.
Professor Tallack commented:
“The College of Arts, Humanities and Law is delighted to be involved in exhibition of Ala Bashir's recent work at Embrace Arts. It will give the public and University staff and students insights into the art of a remarkable person. Ala Bashir is, in my view and many others, Iraq's greatest living artist. That he also has an international reputation as a surgeon is astonishing; as is the fact that he has lived through the upheaval and sheer danger of Iraq's history, and produced some memorable art."
‘Recent Work: Memories of Keys’ will run from Saturday 15 May to Sunday 4 July at Embrace Arts, Richard Attenborough Centre, Lancaster Road, Leicester LE1 7HA. The gallery is open 10am – 6pm Mondays to Fridays. It is also open some weekends but please call 0116 252 2455 weekdays to check beforehand. For further information visit www.embracearts.co.uk.
You can view images from the exhibition at the following link:
Notes to Newsdesk:
For interviews with Ala Bashir, please contact the University of Leicester Press Office on 0116 252 2415.
For more information about the exhibition, please contact Stella Couloutbantis at firstname.lastname@example.org, contact Embrace Arts on 0116 252 2455 or visit www.embracearts.co.uk.
About Embrace Arts at the RA centre
As the University of Leicester’s arts centre – open to all, Embrace Arts at the RA centre offers opportunities to everyone to participate without barriers in ways that challenge and inspire.
Its welcoming 180-seater performance area, art studios, extensive exhibition gallery and bright foyer space enable people to engage with the arts as audiences, performers and learners.
Still one of the few arts venues that can boast a fully-accessible facility, Embrace Arts provides a focal point for cultural life on campus and in the wider community.