Trio from Baghdad: London exhibition celebrates artwork of Iraqi brothers

Trio from Baghdad: London exhibition celebrates artwork of Iraqi brothers
The Qaimaqchi brothers captured the beginning of modern Iraq through painting, sculpture and photography.
2 min read
20 July, 2018
The artwork of three Iraqi brothers will be displayed in a unique exhibition [Qaimakchi family]
Three Iraqi brothers who captured Baghdad during its cultural belle epoque through paintings, photography and sculpture are being celebrated at a unique exhibition in London this weekend.

The Qaimaqchi brothers, Akram born in 1909, Ihsan in 1907 and Anwer in 1914, were doctors by profession but artists by passion. Though they were amateurs, the brothers were well known and respected in the art world, and developed their talent under the supervision of a pioneer of modern Iraqi art, Abdul Qadir al-Rassam.

The exhibition, organised by the Qaimakchi family, aims to "give insight through the pieces of art as well as old photos to paint the picture of a time where Iraq was viewed positively, rather than [as] a war torn country", Meriam Imam, Anwer Qaimaqchi's granddaughter told The New Arab.

While the exhibition is highly sentimental for the family, it offers the uninitiated the chance to see what influenced artists in Iraq at a time in history when it "was a flourishing hub of knowledge, science and art".

"This cultural history is a great contrast to the present day art scene but it may be a source of inspiration," Meriam said.

Exhibition poster [click to enlarge] 

"It is our goal to shed light on the amazing country Iraq once was and will hopefully be again in the future. We hope to be the ones to contribute a small part of light for Iraqi history and art."

The displays include oil paintings as well as caricatures and photographs of Iraq from the 30s to 60s. It will also feature an original painting by Abdul Qadir al-Rassam from 1902.

The exhibition has been in the making for three years, with the family carefully bringing pieces of art from Baghdad to London. Some of the oil paintings damaged from being stored during Iraq's wars and civil strife had to be expertly restored.

The logistics behind this collection were not all plain sailing. "It was quite difficult getting everything out of Baghdad. Some relatives haven't been able to get visas to London so we've collected them and brought them back," Meriam said.

"My favourite drawings are the caricatures. There is a misconception that Iraq was a backwards country that was so close-minded, women were all in headscarves. That's not us. Back then, in the time where there weren't any phones and internet, for [the artists] to still know about international political figures shows it was a very educated country."

The exhibition is open to the public from 12pm to 10pm on Saturday 21 July and Sunday 22 July at Gallery Different, 14 Percy Street, London, W1T 1DR.