Iraqi artist’s visions of home strike a chord

The winner of the 19th Liverpool Art Society Exhibition Hedar Abadi says he paints with the intention of capturing the experience of being a refugee in Australia.


Earlier this year his collection entitled ‘Save Our Fish From Drowning’ was exhibited at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in Sydney’s south west – the prize for winning the Arts Society’s competition.

The works were informed by Mr Abadi’s early life in Babylon,  fleeing from war-torn Iraq and migration to Australia in 1992.

“My passion for painting started from the river near my house. I used to get the mud when I was five-years-old and I use to make sculptures with it and speak to my works. That’s how it all started, and I call it the ‘toy for the poor’.”

Pamela Rodoreda, Liverpool Art Society’s 2016 exhibition coordinator, says his winning painting ‘Migration’ captured the complexities of the human experience.

‘Migrating’ won Hedar Abadi the Annual Liverpool Art Society scholarship prize.Facebook/Hedar Abbas Abadi

“His art is unique partly at least, because it is often very personal, coming from a place of deep emotions, lived trauma and cultural displacement,” she said.

For the 61-year-old who graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad in 1988, memories of his childhood in Babylon influence his sense of displacement.

“I feel like I’m a fish in an aquarium because I’m living in Australia and everything is beautiful, but I would like to swim in my water – the Al Forat River.”

Power and the natural order of the world are also prominent themes in Mr Abadi’s artworks.

“We live in a world of fish where big fish eats little fish – like America invading Iraq.”

Ms Rodoreda says Mr Abadi is a prolific and accomplished artist who is not afraid to tackle difficult subjects.

“He works hard and I believe he will keep going from strength to strength as he continues to explore the depths of human experience through his painting.”

Hedar Abadi beginning one of his creations.Facebook/Hedar Abbas Abadi