Extreme, by Sinan Hussein (Iraq)



Extreme, by Sinan Hussein (Iraq)




This work was created in response to poetic texts written by Habibah Sheikh, a nomadic performance artist originally from Lebanon, and the curator of the exhibition, Mitli Mitlak (Like You, Like Me). In the text, a character named Ruba experiences the destruction of war first hand and becomes a refugee in the process. The use of imagery and of violence evokes the emotional and physical vulnerability of certain Mediterranean themes...such as being without asylum.

In Sinan Hussein’s refugee paintings, the heaviness and the trauma of these experiences are constructed with powerful symbols that are very small, colorful, humble, yet extreme. He condenses three scenes into one or two paintings through symbolism. In Hussein’s refugee painting, the refugee is wearing a red glove on one hand, which for Hussein, is a symbol of politics: the glove of communism. He describes it as ‘how they amass people and tell them that all are treated equally, whether they are rich or poor...the same, animal or not animal, all the same herd. The zebra head worn by one figure is a symbol of world politics. This painting situates Mitli Mitlak during a civil war. One character has on yellow boots, worn when someone goes out to catch fish. “He is going out to kill; Kill the fish... Kill somebody...Kill”. What is being killed in the painting is a bull, reminding the viewer of the Spanish bullfights. This sacrificial animal is symbolizing refugee people. This stabbed, bludgeoned bull attached to and being wheeled around on a bicycle tire, reduces the refugee exodos to one symbol or image. (SULAJ) While elaborating on the image of the bull being stabbed, he says about refugees that flee, “War makers use people to fight in war, and afterward, they kill them.” Just as happened in Iraq, says Hussein, “they said, ‘we are coming to save the Iraqi people’.” After a quiet pause, he adds, “It’s just politics”. “They didn’t find anything dangerous in Iraq. It was all a lie."

In the painting, the donkey’s head is the mask of democracy, while the elephant in the party scene is the republican. “Again, I use it in the painting because they said they were bringing us democracy. In the exodos painting, titled ‘Extreme’ The light bulb under an umbrella expresses, what was promised to Iraq: “ We are coming here to bring the light to create a paradise on earth”. Hussein painted the scene to have it appear that the figures are outside, but they are not outside, because the characters are fenced in. He says, “Inside the world of this painting, the fence where the refugees are contained, is not as the barbed wire of refugee or Palestinian fences, It is an American picket fence."



85 x 63 in.



Original Format




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