Today we’d like to introduce you to Paul Batou.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I was Born in Iraq at a tiny village to the north at Turkey border , my village was burned down 1961 an act they called “Ethnic cleansing” this forced my family to take a very long journey to Baghdad the capital were we lived among Arabs, we are Indigenous people of Iraq we still speak the Aramiac and we know as Assyrians or Chaldeans, we were treated as second class citizen because of our faith and Christianity although we are the origin people of country which was known as Mesopotamia.
I was denied to art school because it was closed only to government member ruling party, so I enrolled in pharmacy school which there was an art studio managed by a well known Iraq artist, he taught me the basic lessons on how to create art, I continue attending art studio until graduation after that I was forced to join the army during Iran-Iraq war for five years from 1983 to 1988. I served in front line as a pharmacist and medic and I witnessed the horror of war and destruction of a human soul, I was focused to help the wounded soldiers and so many time surrounded by dead bodies.
In 1988, I decided to leave Iraq as I felt I have no future or freedom. In 1989, I left Iraq with my wife and my son who was three years old and stayed in Athens-Greece for nine months which I did many art pieces to locals, as a way to support my family also I worked as a Gardner in a home then physical therapist in Dec 1989, I arrived to California. In Baghdad, I managed to exhibit my art in many galleries and won prices for some of them like the epic of Gilgamesh 1980, my art was featured in newspaper and magazines in Iraq, but there was no freedom to fully express your self and thoughts, you have to walk through a fine line in a country ruled by dictator.
Please tell us about your art.
As a full-time pharmacist now I mainly I paint what I feel in my free time, I write poems based on real lives of people and transform those poems into art pieces. I used Acrylic and oil in most of my paintings, in my art, I search for freedom I missed for most of my life in Iraq, I search for love and for peace. I left Iraq and left behind my family and so many friends, I left behind so many people who are thirsty for freedom, the question can I be their voice especially during the brutal sanction against Iraq from 1990 to 2003 then the invasion lead by the American forces and creation a country of criminals and looter. The destruction of the Iraqi museum and all the fine art galleries, the creation of so many radical groups like Isis. All the world witness how they destroyed the ancient artifacts of Assyrian, which forced me to focus on recreation of Mesopotamia in my art. I am trying to tell a story in my art to the world that we exist and we can create, I used Calligraphy in my pieces wither in Arabic or my Assyrian language to form a colorful and beautiful pieces for my audience. I love to introduce my life through all my paintings, who I am and what is my origin, art is a window for my long journey of struggle, especially now I enjoy the freedom in united state and the power of social media helped me reach a large audience around the world.
Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
With the social media and the technology now a day the world become so tiny, yet so busy with all the information and all the artists around the globe. As an artist, I cannot ignore all the events happening around me and my duty is to have a positive energy to create a message of hope filled with the beauty of colors.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
People can see my work by visiting paulbatou.com, also I am active in Facebook. I have a page Art by Paul Batou, my art also in Fineartamerica website, people can support by hearing my story. I published my first book of poetry “MY Last thoughts about Iraq” wish include my thoughts and story and many poems I transformed to art pieces and was exhibited in LA at Infusion Gallery. In 2018, I published my art pieces in my second book “MY Art, MY people”. I also can be contacted through my email firstname.lastname@example.org. I exhibited in Iraq, Kuwait, New York, California, Arizona, Chicago, Detroit.
- Website: www.paulbatou.com
- Phone: 8188230736
- Email: email@example.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paul.batou, https://www.facebook.com/assyrianculture/