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ODED HALAHMY

The strength of Halahmy’s talent is apparent in his strong, lyrical sculptures. Each of his moving pieces, the bronze leaping out in unexpected directions, pays homage to his Iraqi roots and to his life, of which he has spent the last 35 years in New York City.

It was in his native Baghdad where Halahmy, at an early age, began making paintings and sculptures. His father, an affluent goldsmith, fully supported his artistic endeavors. His love of bronze stems from watching his father fashion beautiful objects in gold and silver. Halahmy first sculpted in clay and wood, but later began working with cast bronze, the material and process that excites and challenges him to this day.

My art work and every other aspect of my life have been influenced by my first homeland, Iraq. It is the land of milk and honey that I remember from my childhood; My Baghdad is the most beautiful place on earth.

Baghdad was the start of an artistic and geographical journey that has been integral to his life and work. Halahmy and his family were part of the large exodus of Iraqi Jewry to emigrate to Israel in 1951. In 1966, Halahmy was admitted to St. Martin’s School of Art in London, where his classmates included artists Richard Long and Gilbert & George. This was a period characterized by a spirit of camaraderie and inspiring artistic vitality. Halahmy was exposed to the influential faculty at St. Martin’s, including his studies under Anthony Caro and Phillip King, both important advocates of modern sculpture.

In 1968, Halahmy moved to Canada to accept a teaching position at the Ontario College of Art, Toronto. Having visited New York City on several occasions, Halahmy moved there in 1971, finding an art scene both charged and electrifying. In 1974, the U.S. Government, recognizing Halahmy’s talent, invited him to exhibit his works as part of the Bicentennial Celebration held in the Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan.

Halahmy’s sculptures are part of several important collections, including the Guggenheim, New York, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, as well as other public and private collections worldwide.

Halahmy’s lyrical abstract sculptures reference his native landscape and reflect the hieratic qualities of Mesopotamian sculpture. The works dance, while making reference to palm trees, gates, pomegranates and the moon. Halahmy sees these as universal symbols – the palm representing righteousness and growth and the pomegranate symbolizing love and fertility.

In his works these elements are transformed to immediately recognizable signs – the pomegranate is a sphere topped with a crown, the palm tree an upright slab topped with gently swaying leaves. These forms are interwoven with other elements, which suggest architectural fragments, vases, groves of trees and crests of mountains.

Drinking Juice, 2003
Bronze Cast
H 46.5 W 26 D 10 inches (118 x 66 x 25 cm)
Brings Gifts Home, 2005
Bronze Cast
H 28 W 24 D 7 inches (71 x 61 x 18 cm)
Finally Home, 2006
Aluminum Cast painted Green
H 15 W 15.5 D 1.5 inches (38 x 39 x 4 cm)
Iraq is My Home, 2006
Bronze Cast
H 28.75 W 22.5 D 7.75 (57 x 57 x 19.5 cm)

I am a believer. When I am making a new sculpture, I feel connected to a higher power and I feel we are one. From scraps of wood, I can make endless forms and shapes. I feel a steady spirit is important for my creativity. Before I actually begin working, I cut out forms and shapes that I like, and create a stack of pieces. From these pieces I create a sculpture that is in harmony within itself. I wish that all people and nations would live in harmony. I have a special wish that the children of Abraham live in peace with each other. Peace for the Iraqi people. Amen.

Though none are overtly figural, sometimes a hand appears, or an upright spoon shape appears as a stand-in for human presence. If there is one single idea that runs through Halahmy’s works, it is the ideal of peace and harmony. In 2002, to encourage peace in the Middle East, Halahmy founded “The Oded Halahmy Foundation for the Arts, Inc.,” a non-profit cultural organization created to fund original artistic expression of peace and hope in the Middle East. In 2006, he opened the “Pomegranate Gallery,” dedicated to exhibiting contemporary Middle Eastern artists.
137 Greene Street
NY, NY 10012
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