Murals bring ‘joy’ to Baghdad concrete jungle

Published May 3, 2022
Iraqi artist Wijdan al Majed draws a mural depicting Iraqi poet Muzzafar al Nawab on a concrete structure in the capital.—AFP
Iraqi artist Wijdan al Majed draws a mural depicting Iraqi poet Muzzafar al Nawab on a concrete structure in the capital.—AFP

BAGHDAD: Iraqi artist Wijdan al-Majed is transforming Baghdad’s concrete jungle into a colour-filled city with murals depicting well-known figures from the war-scarred country and abroad.

Perched on a scaffold at a busy intersection, the 49-year-old artist and instructor at the Baghdad College of Fine Arts is adding final touches to a mural dedicated to celebrated Iraqi poet Muzzafar al-Nawab.

Peasant women in traditional dress adorn the background of the mural, commissioned by Baghdad mayor Alaa Maan.

He launched the initiative nine months ago in a bid to “bring beauty to the city and move art to the streets to get rid of the grey and dusty colours” that hang over Baghdad.

Majed, an artist more accustomed to exhibiting her work in the cosy and reflective settings of galleries, at first had helpers to create the street art. But she has turned to working alone, undaunted by the “huge challenges” she faces as a woman in a largely conservative, male-dominated society.

“Sometimes I work late into the night,” said Majed, wearing jeans and shoes splattered with paint.

“The street is scary at night, and it’s not easy for a woman to be out so late,” she said.

Motorists and passers-by often slow down or stop to watch the woman on her scaffold, paintbrush in hand and hard at work. Disparaging comments are sometimes fired her way.

“I learn to live with it and ignore them,” she said.

“People have become used to seeing a woman paint. Iraqi society has accepted me.” Many Iraqis are happily surprised by the transformation of their capital.

Published in Dawn,May 3rd, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Dark days
Updated 26 May, 2022

Dark days

The PTI, on its part, does not seem to have been prepared to face such a large deployment of state machinery.
26 May, 2022

No room for dissent

WHILE political turmoil roils the land, a number of incidents over the past few days have demonstrated that though...
26 May, 2022

Harassing passengers

REPORTS of the confiscation of personal items from passengers’ private luggage by customs officials at Karachi’s...
Back to bedlam
Updated 25 May, 2022

Back to bedlam

FEAR tactics have never worked in the past, and most likely will not this time either. The government’s ...
25 May, 2022

Balochistan blaze

THE forest fire on the Koh-i-Sulaiman range in Balochistan’s Shirani area is among a series of blazes to have...
25 May, 2022

Unequal citizens

INDIFFERENCE would have been bad enough, but the state’s attitude towards non-Muslims falls squarely in the...