Azal – Iraq’s Little Painter
At this moment, the name Azal might not mean much to you. However art critics predict that it won’t be long before the name Azal is synonymous with the greats of abstract art.
No, she has not yet been feted in the world’s favourite galleries. Nor has she travelled extensively to build her burgeoning reputation. The reason? This vibrant, intelligent Iraqi painter is just 10. I came across her work via social media and immediately felt I had ‘met’ her.
This delicate child has been drawing since she was four. Even at this early age, her drawings of cartoon characters caught the eyes of her family. Early promise was fostered by devoted parents and led to Azal’s introduction, through her uncle, to professional Iraqi painters. This exposure to a number of different styles of painting meant that she quickly mastered the basics. She was thus able to develop her own personal artistic style very early on – moving seamlessly from realism to abstract.
Her canvases burst with colours and ideas as well as light and shade, and are drawn together in a way that exposes not just a brilliant talent but also an incredible strength of character. Exaggeration and artifice are missing; instead her tiny fingers take us through a charged emotional journey with flawless mastery. Azal considers Leonardo da Vinci as her personal role model. Looking at the steady determination with which she has faced down any obstacles in her path so far, her dream of becoming a famous doctor and a painter (at the same time!) do not seem to be that far out of reach. In terms of other future plans, she tells me that she wishes to launch her very own gallery abroad – at this stage I am wondering ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ this will happen.
Azal and her work
The art contests and awards she has won are not age specific. Indeed many of the events she participates in and wins are meant for college students and professional painters. Honoured by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights and Culture, as well as by the Representative of the UNFPA, and the French Cultural Institute in Baghdad, Azal has been awarded the first prizes for some key art contests. These particular events saw entries from Iraqi painters at least two decades her senior. Other career firsts have seen her launching an exhibition of her paintings in the Children’s Culture House of the Ministry of Culture. Another exhibition dedicated to her work was held at Mutanabbi Street. It included 45 paintings showing the activities taking place there.
Azal with her father
In real life Azal is an ordinary little girl. She is in the fourth grade at primary school and is considered to be a clever pupil. What has given her wings personally,which has meant that it has given wings to her art also, is the loving care of devoted parents. They are not part of the art community but have provided her with a secure home and community which has enabled her to thrive. They are not experts in art, instead they are experts in parenting and have given their lives to fostering her potential – a gift to us all, not just Azal.
I am hoping that by writing an article to introduce the wider world to this extraordinary talent, we will help her parents pass the baton to us. Our support will enable Azal to blossom into a lovely, colourful flower representing her community and her nation with an extraordinary creative vision that will inspire the world.
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