Iraqi artist turns concrete Baghdad into color-bursting capital
Wijdan Al-Majed, supervised by the mayor of Baghdad, is coloring the capital stroke by stroke.
Wijdan Al-Majed, an Iraqi artist, is transforming Baghdad's concrete jungle into a city full of color, with murals depicting well-known figures from the country traumatized by the so-called "war on terror."
The 49-year-old artist and instructor at the Baghdad College of Fine Arts was adding final touches to a moral dedicated to Muzzafar Al-Nawab, an Iraqi poet. Women in traditional garments decorate the background of the mural.
The initiative is commissioned by the mayor of Baghdad, Alaa Maan, launching it 9 months ago with the aim to "bring beauty to the city and move art to the streets to get rid of the grey and dusty colors."
Maan, also an architect, chose what figures Al-Majed would paint.
Al-Majed, previously very used to working in cozy gallery settings, at first had helpers create the street art - with time, she had turned to work alone in a male-dominated society.
Murals bring joy to Baghdad concrete jungle.— AFP News Agency (@AFP) May 2, 2022
Iraqi artist Wijdan al-Majed is transforming Baghdad's concrete jungle into a colour-filled city with murals depicting well-known figures from the war-scarred country and abroadhttps://t.co/or9ZbqAIET pic.twitter.com/QYWF0FcqUR
"Sometimes I work late into the night," said Majed, clothes splattered with paint. "The street is scary at night, and it's not easy for a woman to be out so late," she told AFP.
Motorists and passers-by many times slow down or stop to watch Al-Majed at work, painting the mural.
"People have become used to seeing a woman paint. Iraqi society has accepted me."
Al-Majed has painted a number of influential Iraqi writers, architects, artists - and even foreign philosophical and religious figures. At least 16 murals have been painted so far in Baghdad.
As Al-Majed spoke, she was touching up a mural with a revolutionary poet, Muzaffar Al-Nawab, who spent years in jail for his writings about repressive Iraqi governance.
"This is the most beautiful Muzaffar," a motorist shouted as he drove past her.
Another mural was devoted to Jawad Slim, who is considered the father of Iraqi modern art and a prominent sculptor. Another mural was dedicated to the late architectural genius, Zaha Hadid.
German sociologist Max Weber and Catholic saint Mother Teresa are among the foreigners celebrated on Baghdad's new murals.