The white mark he leaves in paintings is a window of hope

About the Artist

Iraqi Artist Ihsan al-Khatib was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1949. In 2003, he finished a master degree in fine arts (with honors) in the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. In 2011 he received a postgraduate diploma in fine arts (with honors) from the same university. In 1973, Al Khatib finished his Bachelor degree in plastic arts in the arts department of the fine arts academy in Baghdad, Iraq. Ihsan Al Khatib has participated in more than 90 local and international artistic exhibitions.

A graduate of Baghdad School of Fine Arts, al-Khatib spent many years in Sharjah, the UAE, carving out his own niche in art techniques and setting the stage for the younger generation of artists to learn from him.

Ihsan al-Khatib: My fame emanated from my lifetime passion with art spanning more than four decades.

Although al-Khatib spent a long spell in landlocked countries, the echoes of the gurgling sound of rivers in Iraq always kept playing in his mind.

Ihsan al-Khatib: I still recall the outbound trips to Basra by trains moving at the speed of foot-dragging turtles as they arrived at al-Ahwar. The images of peasant women carrying milk cream and hot bread are still alive in my memory.

The reputation of his water color paintings never distanced him from al-Ahwar where he grew up as a child.

Ihsan al-Khatib: The most sordid act of the former regime is that it dried up the marshlands of al-Ahwar which left a disastrous mark on the life of the Iraqi people.

Al-Khatib tends to a white spot amid an ocean of dark colors in his paintings. It is a window of hope, he says. Moreover, al-Khatib regards his canvas to be a real part of him.

Ihsan al-Khatib: When I am in the thick of painting, I don’t feel disturbed. Once it is completed, I feel I have fully returned to normalcy.