58. Biennale – Padiglione iracheno

Venezia - 08/05/2019 : 24/11/2019

Serwan Baran rappresenta l'Iraq alla Biennale di Venezia col progetto


  • Luogo: CA' DEL DUCA
  • Indirizzo: San Marco 3052 - Venezia - Veneto
  • Quando: dal 08/05/2019 - al 24/11/2019
  • Vernissage: 08/05/2019 ore 18
  • Autori: Serwan Baran
  • Generi: arte contemporanea

Comunicato stampa

The Ruya Foundation is delighted to announce that Serwan Baran will represent
Iraq at the 58th Venice Biennale, presenting a solo exhibition which will run from
11 May to 24 November 2019. This will be the fourth National Pavilion of Iraq
commissioned by the Ruya Foundation and follows the critical success of ‘Archaic’
which Ruya commissioned for the 57th edition of the Biennale in 2017. This is the
first time Iraq will be represented by a solo artist at the Biennale

Iraqi-Kurdish artist Serwan Baran was born in Baghdad in 1968, and is considered
part of the ‘new generation’ of Iraqi painters. He has lived through over 40 years
of war in his country and was conscripted during conflicts in the 1980s and 1990s.
During his time as a soldier and war artist, Baran was obligated to record the
victories of the Iraqi army for government propaganda. His work became more
expressionist when he began addressing his own military experience by
deconstructing images of generals in grotesque, figural abstractions. Baran
describes this artistic period as an attempt to silence “the nightmare inside me”.
The large-scale and site-specific works of ‘Fatherland’ will invoke the feeling of a
war zone upon entering, in line with Baran’s signature dark and atmospheric style.
The exhibition will feature a monumental acrylic painting, The Last Meal, depicting
a bird’s-eye view of soldiers killed during their last meal. Elements of collage will
be incorporated, including objects from Iraqi military uniforms given to the artist by
families of the deceased. These uniforms were collected from the Iran-Iraq War, the
second Gulf War and the war with ISIS.
The exhibition will also include a sculpture, The Last General, a life-size clay
replica of an army general inside a sunken life boat cast in fibreglass. The figure of
the general is sculpted so that half of his body appears decayed, while the other
half appears intact and wears a uniform and medals. The sculpture will also
include elements of collage, using cloth from military uniforms. Resembling an
ancient mummy in a sarcophagus, this clay coloured sculpture is intended as a
reminder of the brutality of military leaders, as well as a tribute to perished men
who have become part of the soil.
Iraq and the region have endured reigns of terror and authoritarian rule in the
name of nationalist and religious ideologies, often driven by the need to wage war
both in competition for, and in defence of, the ‘Fatherland’. The term al-watan
(meaning ‘homeland’ or ‘nation’) is used by dictators in demagogic speeches and
in fascist literature. The exhibition is a commentary on the masculine and
paternalistic dimensions of political culture in Iraq and the region.
In particular, Baran seeks to interrogate the ways in which the notion of the
‘Fatherland’ has been used to justify the horrors of war, the soldier’s efforts, and a
leader’s tactics. The soldier, often depicted as a valiant and obedient hero, is more
often a victim of brutal authority. Through an examination of the abuse of the
patria, the exhibition is also an exploration of the nature of man, his indulgence to
his violent nature, and to his own dictatorial instincts that find an outlet through war.
Tamara Chalabi, Chair and Co-Founder of the Ruya Foundation and co-curator of
the exhibition has said:
“It is an important development for this pavilion to have a solo artist represent
Iraq for the first time. Serwan Baran’s work is fitting artistically, both as a deeply
personal testimony of his own experiences and a universal commentary on the
condition of mankind. I am pleased to also be sharing his singular expressionist
style as a painter, in a medium that has great significance within the history of
modern Iraqi art.”
Paolo Colombo, co-curator has said:
“Serwan Baran’s large-scale works are forceful denunciations of the horrors of
war. They are meant to overwhelm the viewer, as one is overwhelmed in the
proximity of a large film screen. His statement is not restrained, and the scale of
his works is in perfect tune with the volume of his proclamation.”
– ENDS –
Notes to Editors
About ‘Fatherland’ and the Iraq Pavilion
Curators: Tamara Chalabi and Paolo Colombo
Commissioner: Ruya Foundation
Address: Ca’ Del Duca, Corte del Duca Sforza, San Marco 3052, Venice
Nearest Vaporetto: Accademia or San Samuele
The exhibition will run 11 May – 24 November 2019. Opening hours are 10am – 6pm,
every day except Mondays.
Press preview: Wednesday 8 May 2019, 11 am –