- The Washington Times - Monday, January 16, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — Tattered book covers salvaged from the Iraqi Academy of Fine Arts and wax sketches of bombs exploding in Baghdad will be displayed this month in a rare U.S. exhibition of Iraqi artists.

“Ashes to Art: The Iraqi Phoenix” reflects the turbulence of the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003. The exhibit opens Thursday and runs through Feb. 22.

Nearly all the works include a charred element, said Peter Hastings Falk, curator of the show at SoHo’s Pomegranate Gallery.

Artist Qasim Sabti returned to his alma mater, the Academy of Fine Arts, the morning after the U.S. began bombing Baghdad in March 2003 and found the school’s library burned. He used the books, which he calls “survivors,” to create collages.

Hana Malallah, the lone woman among the 10 artists represented in the exhibit, painted “The Looting of the Museum of Art.”

Mr. Falk said he developed the idea for the exhibit shortly after the war began when he read about artist Esam Pasha, who was painting over a mural of Saddam. Mr. Pasha helped Mr. Falk find artists for the New York show.

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