Iraqi artist Ismail Fattah Al-Turk, or Ismail Fattah as he is more commonly known, is celebrated for the many statues and monuments that he designed which adorned many public squares in Baghdad, the most important being the Martyr's Monument that was finally built in the 1980s.
Although he is more commonly known as a sculptor, there is a rich heritage of painting that has pushed Fattah into the sculptural realm, which became evident in his later exhibitions where he including some of these paintings. Souk fi Al-Nassiriyeh is a delightful example of the artist's early academic work that shows the progression of the artist's academic training to the contemporary sculptures and paintings he has become most well known for.
Born in Basra in 1934, Ismail Fattah moved with his family as a child to Nassiriyeh where he attended school. It comes as no surprise that he would choose to depict the bustling souk of the surroundings he was familiar with while he studied painting and sculpture at the newly-constructed Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad gaining his diplomas in 1956 and 1958 respectively. The present work from 1956 is an example of the style that Fattah adopted during his time at the institute where, as he developed, was influenced by Shaker Hassan Al Said, who at the time used popular heritage in his works, Kadhim Haidar and Tareq Mazloum. Classical in its depiction, there is a level of sculptural quality and sensitivity in the work in the way the figures are painted and the awnings of the shops take on a rigid feel that can only be described as a scene carved out from clay.
During his years at the Institute, Fattah attracted the attention of Jewad Selim, who later mentored him to look beyond the obvious, pushing him to explore his ability to create a style that would be different from that of his contemporaries. Souk fi Al-Nassiriyeh thus offers an academic insight into one of the most celebrated Iraqi artists of today.