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Criterion | Nazar Yahya

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Nazar Yahya

2016

 

«I shall lay these colors on unprimed canvas to tell the story of the three Kings and the men who came after them...»

 

Three Kings ruled over modern Iraq. They were brought over from the Hejaz. The last of them was King Faisal II. His death heralded the beginning of military rule in Iraq and the dawn of unending war, both within and across its borders.

 

I returned from Beirut laden with oil paint given to me by a friend who had fallen in love with colours. He showed me boxes and drawers full of small tubes stacked like bodies of soldiers thrown in mass graves. I had many to choose from, so I decided to take them all. I arranged them like small sepulchers in cardboard boxes to carry back to Houston with me.

 

 

I stayed at his house and that night, I had a dream. I was squeezing point onto unprimed canvases. I was creating short, horizontal, rectangular strips.

 

I shall lay these colors on unprimed canvas to tell the story of the three Kings and the men who came after them, just as the stories of generals are told by the military ribbons a xed to their chests. I venture that the threads from these ribbons will extend to nd their origin in the barrels of guns that will be pointed at them in due time, lest they nd within them that boy child whom they killed over and over again. Until such a time comes, I shall cover the thread with layers of paint and hope that it will su ce.

 

Nazar Yahya

2016