After the bar

A young girl stood behind a bar. The bar is destroyed, with broken glass and bottles all around.
After the bar. Kanar, age 18. Reworking Manet Exhibition 2023 | The Courtauld. Image credit: Finn Arschavir and Tasmiya Tasmi.

Kanar, age 18

Oil paint on board

Many stories are hidden, some lost in history, and many forgotten. I would describe my art as ‘memories of the chaos’ in which I create art about war, my memories, and bringing forgotten stories to life. The painting is based on a memory and a story I heard as a child: back in my country, Iraq, my next-door neighbour was killed in an assassination in his alcohol shop, leaving his children behind.

The painting represents all the children who are suffering in war and who have been left behind. I wanted the painting to speak of many things, so I decided to add other stories. In 2014, the Mosul Museum in Iraq was demolished by ISIS, the same year my neighbour died. They believed the statues of the museum promoted idolatry and therefore destroyed them all. So, I decided to include the museum columns and the Lamassu, which is a deity with a bull’s body, eagle’s wings, and a human head. It stood at one of many gates along the city walls of Nineveh, where I was born, as a protective spirit and a symbol of power of the Assyrian king. The painting captures a child standing in a ruined shop littered with broken bottles, wine, and alcoholic beverages that have been strewn all around, showing damaged places filled with destruction.