Invisible Beauty shows work in various media by five contemporary artists from Iraq and the diaspora. It includes new work, but also works which have been rediscovered after a long time. The exhibition title refers both to the unusual or unexpected subjects in the works that will be on display and to the inevitable invisibility of Iraqi artists on the international stage. The relationship of art to survival, record-keeping, therapy and beauty are amongst the many themes raised by the exhibition. The endlessly interpretable title is intended to reveal the many different ways of approaching art generated by a country that has been subjected to war, genocide, violations of human rights and, in the last year, the rise of Isis. The systematic demolition of the cultural heritage of Iraq by Isis, seen recently in the destruction of centuries-old historical sites at Hatra, Nimrud and Nineveh and the events at the Mosul Museum, has made it more important than ever to focus on artists of Iraqi origin.
The artists in the exhibition will comprise Latif Al Ani, Akam Shex Hadi, Rabab Ghazoul, Salam Atta Sabri and Haider Jabbar. This selection was chosen by Philippe van Cauteren following a journey to Iraq that was organised and facilitated by Ruya Foundation and carried out in company with Tamara Chalabi, the Foundation’s Chair and Co-founder. Van Cauteren and Chalabi also visited Iraqi artists working in the US, Turkey, Belgium and the UK.