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Mahmoud Sabri

The Hero, 1963
Oil on canvas
197.5 x 139.5 cm

Mahmoud Sabri
Born 1927, Baghdad, Iraq
Died 2012, Maidenhead, United Kingdom

The painting portrays the moment before the execution of the secretary of the Iraqi Communist Party, Husain Ahmad al-Radi, also known by his party name Salam Adil. This hero, facing execution, represents the demise of an ideology. The purge of Communists that ensued in Iraq after the 1963 Ba’ath-led coup d’état, had an immense impact on Sabri’s work. The Hero is both a tribute and an homage to his friend Salam Adil, an amateur artist, with whom he shared an interest in philosophy and art. In this work, Sabri assimilated references from several visual sources such as Christian iconography and the aesthetics of social realism, and interlaced documentation with fictitious and symbolic constructions.

Text by Suheyla Takesh, extract from Master’s Thesis, MIT, 2018

© Photo: Courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation

A Century in Flux - photos

Highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation. Sharjah Art Museum, UAE, 12 May 2018 - 31 May 2023. Curators: Salwa Mikdadi, Mandy Merzaban, Karim Sultan.

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