Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Art Illustrates Life



Rumsfeld Painting Expected to Be a Hit in Baghdad

By HAMZA HENDAWI, AP

BAGHDAD, Iraq (June 7) - Muayad Muhsin was both inspired and enraged by a photo of U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld slumped on a seat with his army boots up in front of him.

"It symbolized America's soulless might and arrogance," said Muhsin, whose similar painting of Rumsfeld will be unveiled in an exhibition opening in Baghdad on Monday.

The painting, expected to be the show's main attraction, and the rest of the exhibit illustrate the simmering anger of Iraqis with the United States as the country continues to endure violence, sectarian tensions and crime three years after Saddam Hussein's ouster.

Muhsin's Rumsfeld painting is not the first artistic expression by Iraqis of the perceived injustices by the United States in their country, but it is the first to depict a top member of the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush. After Bush, most Iraqis see Rumsfeld as the man behind the invasion of their oil-rich country and the chief architect of U.S. military actions in Iraq.

Those who closely follow him remember his infamous comment - "Stuff happens" - when asked why U.S. troops did not actively seek to stop the lawlessness in the Iraqi capital in the weeks that followed their capture of the city in April 2003.

Another memorable Rumsfeld comment, also made in 2003, was his suggestion that Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction were deeply hidden in Iraq. "It's a big country," he said.

Muhsin first saw the Rumsfeld photo about 18 months ago. He went to work right away, but did not finish the painting - entitled "Picnic" - until about two weeks ago.

The oil-on-canvas, 5-by-3-foot work shows Rumsfeld in a blue jacket, tie, khaki pants and army boots reading from briefing papers. His boots are resting on what appears to be an ancient stone.

While Rumsfeld's image is true to life, he sits next to a partially damaged statue of a lion standing over a human - a traditional image of strength during the ancient Babylon civilization. The statue's stone base is ripped open, revealing shelves from which white piece of papers are flying away, later turning into birds soaring high into an ominously gray sky.

Muhsin said the symbolism has to do with Washington's repeated assertions in the months before the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that Saddam's regime had weapons of mass destruction, the cornerstone in the Bush administration's argument for going to war.

No such weapons turned up, but the Bush administration maintained that removing Saddam's regime alone justified the decision to invade Iraq.

"They did not find the weapons and, instead, found the annals of an ancient civilization that turned into birds of love, peace and knowledge," said Muhsin, himself a native of the area around the central Iraqi city of Babil, or Babylon, south of Baghdad.

"Rumsfeld's boots deliver a message from America: 'We rule the world,"' Muhsin, 41, told The Associated Press in an interview. "It speaks of America's total indifference to what the rest of the world thinks."


The musicians (Dixie Chicks, Springsteen, Neil Young, Pearl Jam) and now the visual artists are telling the true story of the Bush years.

via Huffington Post

1 Comments:

Blogger Dave said...

nice stuff wayne, i dig. screw rummy, i'd rather hit him with a truck than look at him.

6:32 PM  

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