Pomegranate Gallery, SoHo NY
   
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MOHAMMED AL-SHAMMAREY

I spent eight years as a marine in the southern port of Um Qasr. Because this is Iraq’s largest deep-water port, it was one the first places to fall to coalition forces during the war. I was responsible for the morgue.

During the war my unit was positioned near the harbor. I was stuck in a cramped position, surrounded by boxes and military shipments. After seemingly endless months, the many symbols marked on those boxes became part of my world. It was impossible to turn my front line shelter into an art studio. But I did have my sketchbook, and into it I poured all my truest and deepest emotions of death, survival, love, bitterness, war, and peace.

I never imagined that after the war my sketchbook, with all of those symbols, would serve as a catalyst for a new approach to art. But after the war, I suddenly found myself entering a new war —not one of guns and machinery — but of technology and fast-turning lifestyles from which Baghdad had long been walled-in. I couldn’t comprehend this fast pace life around me. Feelings, emotions, and senses took on new forms. The computer monitor was now the primary window for communication and vision. This new openness to the world, long forbidden by Saddam, suddenly and dramatically changed the point of view on our existence.

The landscapes of Van Gogh no longer were of interest to me, for my soul was unconsciously drawn to meditate upon this new world of globalization that was thrust upon us. We became inundated by barcodes, hard rock, fast food meals, e-mails, intelligent missiles, weapons of mass destruction, HIV, mad cow disease, genetic maps, cloning, nuclear war heads, and terrorism. The creative process often fed off a continuously confusing reaction to these new characteristics of globalization. It was in this cauldron that my book arts were born. They reflect a combination of my middle-eastern heritage and our westernization, acknowledging that we are being led into a world of the unknown.

Untitled, 2004
Oil on Canvas
39 x 39 inches (99 x 99 cm)
137 Greene Street
NY, NY 10012
212.260.4014
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