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Dia Al-Azzawi

This video brought to you by Tate.org.uk

Having moved to the UK in 1976, artist Dia Al-Azzawi found that by viewing Iraq from afar, he could understand more about Iraqi and Arabic culture than if he had remained there. Al-Azzawi's vast drawing Sabra and Shatila Massacre 1982-3 is an example of work that arose from this process of observation. Here Al-Azzawi explains how working from imagination, he depicted the painting's scenes of chaos in a semi-abstract style to create a work that is not a propaganda piece, but which documents a tragedy.

Created by Tate.

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  • purple pi purple style avatar for user moffatp
    what was the Sabra and Shatila Massacre?
    (2 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user Camille @ Tate
      The Sabra and Shatila Massacre took place in 1982. Over the course of several days and kept under guard by the Israeli Defence Force, hundreds of Palestinian refugees were killed by a group of Lebanese Christians in Beirut. The artist's work is an attempt to convey the feelings of chaos and horror of such an event. Do you get that impression from his painting?
      (3 votes)

Video transcript

I'm there i sowwy artist originally from Iraq living in London since 1976 my interest in art go back to my childhood after I study archaeology then I decided to go and study more art or particular paintings from 1976 when I'm here I became more interested in printing what I'm trying actually to go back a little bit to my roots of culture as Iraqi at the same time it gave me opportunity to look to my culture from abroad in a way it's a new window for example when I was living in Iraq I thought I have everything in a sense when I left and came to London Iraq becomes like a small village I managed to get more knowledge about my culture about my history when I'm here rather than when I was in Baghdad this is the painting which I am working with the last two months this is some of the models which I did as the idea to enlarge it to endure this when this kind of work for example to produce this one in marble the two meters this is also another piece which I did for missing missing a friend this is about also of some event which killed the years ago and in that sense which I try to adjust to keep the space empty to mention that as they are no no longer exist comparing to this one there and you can see here my influence of my work as a painter using different colors and the descriptions the challenge I think to have produce to produce a large piece the great challenge than the small one you can't control when you have a small one but when you have a piece a piece a large piece then you have to think about it in terms of composition in terms of the various element which you can put together I mean for example for any success painting if you have it on the wall should be in the eyes go around without in a way your eyes escaping to the other painting the painting which acquired recently from meditate the titleist sobriety learn a second from the beginning I thought to produce a painting which suggests the tragedy of violence the contrast and interrelation between death and life the tragedy and this particular massacres most of the people than the innocent men and women children estimated more than three thousand people killed in one night I try to produce something which is not a propaganda innocence it's documenting of a tragedy the in a way is the whole world is very small such a small village does mean if I can give you some influence from my culture and you give me yours this is what we supposed to heart now this is a human creativity which can belong to anybody