Dara Aram (OSA)

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                                               Together 1, 11 (acry. on can.) 36x48in.



Local artist tells grim story of massacre by Saddam Hussein

               Dara Aram's work on display at Cedar Ridge Gallery

   http://www.insidetoronto.com/       Mar 06, 2007

Local artist tells grim story of massacre by Saddam Hussein. Artist Dara Aram stands between a door frame and his mixed media installation 'Heading to the Mountain' which is part of a larger exhibition at Cedar Ridge Gallery until March. 9.

The grim story of Saddam Hussein's Anfal campaign, in which some 180,000 Kurds are thought to have been murdered, was there on canvasses surrounding artist Dara Aram.

The dead include many of Aram's childhood friends. In mixed media hanging in Scarborough's Cedar Ridge Gallery this week, he has evoked scenes of their torture, of the bombing of villages and destruction of entire clans.

And still Aram said he could not rejoice in the recent execution of Hussein, the man who ordered wholesale slaughter in Iraq's north, the region where he was born.

"As a civilized person, I don't want these people to be killed. I want them put in prison forever," so that "every day is death for that person," the Scarborough artist said at the tranquil Cedar Ridge Creative Centre on Confederation Drive recently.

Dead, Hussein has again become a hero for some, he noted. "To me, Saddam Hussein died the day they got him out of that rat hole. The guy was so arrogant and brutal he never thought anybody could do anything to him."

The Iraqi dictator arranged the Anfal killings, which reached their climax between 1986 to 1989 during the Iran-Iraq War.

Aram was in Syria in 1988 when poison-gas bombs exterminated thousands of Kurds in the Iraqi town of Halabja. A few months later, the young artist, then barely out of his teens, exhibited his first depictions of the atrocity in Damascus.

"They said 'you're allowed to have a show but don't say 'I'm Kurdish', say 'I'm from Iraq,'" he recalled.

Aram managed to get from Syria to Turkey and then immigrated to Canada in 1989. Many of his friends didn't survive capture by the Iraqi authorities, he said.

"Some of them made it, some of them didn't. None of them were activists, they were only Kurdish."

He's been working on art about the Anfal ever since, trying to get the "dramatic environment" for a show, which in its first-ever Canadian exhibit has 17 pieces that are dramatically different from Aram's typically colourful works, many of them concerned with dance, which he has shown from Japan to the Middle East.

The materials include ashes, soil, barbed wire and in one case, an infant's shoe.

One piece depicts the bombing of Hallabja, while another, Dark Cell, features a string of bottle caps hanging from the bars of a cell. Its caption says the work "is a memory of those friends from ages 12 to 18 who didn't survive the torture of the former Iraqi regime.

"When some of them were apprehended they still had bottle caps in their pockets. At that time, they used the caps to make toys."

Aram said in his youth he thought activists for Kurdish independence were freedom fighters but didn't want to join them and lose his freedom of thought.

"I always hated politics. Art is everything to me."

The show which runs through this Friday, he added, is not just about the horror visited on Kurdish people, who are divided by the borders of Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran.

"I know this kind of atrocity is still going on in different countries," including Darfur in Sudan, Aram said. "We are all human beings. When a person dies (by violence) in Darfur, it affects me."



                 No One, Only Nature To Protect Them.Installation#1. each 20x30 Inch



                                   Hallabja. Mixed Media,Installation. 96x240 Inch


                         Different Worlds Digital , acrylic and encaustic on canvas 20X 30 Inch


                                      Halabja. 1999-2006. Installation . 3 M X 5 M.







Halabja. 1999-2006. Installation . 3 M X 5 M.





              Tomeless Rhythm  -  exhibition - DaraAram -Cedar Ridge Gallery2013




















                                              Nikola Rukaj  Gallery