One of the most celebrated Iraqi Modern artists, Ismail Fattah graduated from the Institute of Fine arts in Baghdad and the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome and is known for his passionate and creative approach to both sculpture and painting. Inspired by Mesopotamian and Assyrian iconography, the motif of human faces or masks recurs in numerous paintings by the artist. Fattah often painted his faces lacking certain features, such as a mouth, ears or eyes, as to symbolise the loss of one of their senses and to hint to the social struggles of his compatriots. At the same time the artist always portrays his faces with certain strengths as a reflection of his own soul and to highlight a sense of hope that is underlying.
The present lot captures nine faces, each one of them placed within a square space, sometimes emphasised by a frame. Despite this apparent separation, the faces seem to be engaged in a mutual dialogue. The faces form a grid and their union creates a shield that protects them. Each face becomes a metaphor for the people in Iraq; the fighters, the women, the intellectuals come together like a mosaic of faces that reveals the generalised feeling of unity in an unsteady social and political context. By the use of vivid and contrasting colours, the artist achieves a similar yet distinctive look with visible gender characteristics. The individual faces are depicted on a white background, reflecting on a strong sense of spirituality and delicate serenity. The contrasts between the faces as well as in form and colours allude to the events that were taking place in 2002, at the eve of the war that would ravage Iraq.