Iraqi artist's Sabra-Shatila tapestry could hang alongside Picasso's Guernica

Iraqi artist's Sabra-Shatila tapestry could hang alongside Picasso's Guernica
2 min read
29 December, 2016
A renowned Iraqi artist's work depicting the devastating massacre of thousands of Palestinians in Lebanon is being transformed into a tapestry to be displayed alongside Picasso's Guernica.
A tapestry depicting the Sabra-Shatila massacre could hang next to Guernica [Getty]

A giant tapestry depicting the massacres at Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon in 1982 is set to go on display alongside Picasso's Guernica in the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid.

Renowned Palestinian Arab art collector Ramzi Dalloul has commissioned the Royal Tapestry Factory in the Spanish capital to transform Iraqi artist Dia al-Azzawi's drawing of the atrocity into a wall hanging.

Azzawi produced his original ink-and-crayon drawing in response to the slaughter of around 2,000 Palestinians by Lebanese Christian militia groups in collaboration with the Israeli army.

He completed the work in 1983. Two years ago, the Tate in London bought Azzawi's original drawing. The work is currently on loan in a retrospective of the artist's work at the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art and the Qatar Museums Gallery al-Riwaq in Doha.

Dalloul said that a dozen weavers at the 300-year-old factory are working on the project, set to be completed in about a year.

On a visit to the site when work on the tapestry started, the Spanish culture minister asked Dalloul if the finished piece could be displayed alongside Picasso's Guernica, painted as an immediate reaction to the Nazis' devastating bombing of the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

It is considered one of the most moving anti-war paintings in history.

Dalloul said: "Of course, we accepted [the invitation]", reported The Art Newspaper.

The Tate has collaborated with Dalloul on the tapestry project, the collector's son Basel said. The gallery enabled technicians employed by Dalloul to take "extensive high-resolution photographs of every quadrant of the drawing, then [the tapestry factory] used those as guides", Basel said. Azzawi has also been involved in the project.

Dalloul commissioned the tapestry for display in a new museum he intends to build in Lebanon for his collection.