MAHOOD AHMED is an Iraqi Painter who was born in 1940 in Maysan (South of Iraq), a region that is considered the cradle for the Akkadian and Sumerian civilization and also known for maintaining the traditional culture of Mesopotamian Marshlands; from which he acquired the title “Son of the Marshes” used in many of his writings. Mahood Ahmed spent most of his life in academia; beginning in 1959 when he completed his studies in the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad, then he moved to Russia and acquired a Masters of Arts in 1967. He later went on to acquire his PhD in Science of Art from the Institute for Theoretical Studies in Moscow in 1979. After his completion of his studies he joined the University of Baghdad and was stationed as a Professor of Art Sciences in 1996, a position he still currently holds and was given honours for it being the oldest professor at the University of Baghdad in 2005. He is also a founding member of of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Salahuddin in Erbil, Kurdistan. His academic accomplishments are extremely distinguished, much like his artistic productions, which has been featured in galleries all over the world, most recently in the UAE and Algeria.
The first time that I came across his work it reminded me of Iraqi painter Afifa Aleiby and her Russian figurative style that is highly infused by symbolic surrealism. This is not a surprise considering that they both spent a good period of their life studying painting in Moscow, during different years of course with Afifa Aleiby being most recent, so I think its more accurate to say that Afifa Aleiby’s work is highly influenced by Mahood’s themes and style.
Like many Iraqi artists the themes that his paintings tackle are the same reccuring themes of loss, struggle, war, and destruction, which he presents in a way that engages the viewer by trying to build a script, and a form of a conversation between the characters that are being portrayed and that viewer. Most often, you are forced to create and imagine your own scenario due to the static characters that are purposefully portrayed as if they are in dire need to share and converse their emotions to you indirectly through an imagined monologue that is exhibited by the acts seen between those characters; eventually giving his work a highly surreal element, yet as mentioned earlier remains to be grounded within a Russian figurative style.
Mahood Ahmed is another treasure the Iraqi culture have lost by disengaging him, like many other artists in different fields, from their social and institutional spheres. It is heartbreaking that these artists who highly deserve recognition from their own people at first, but also from the global artistic scene, are being left out and ignored when the society is in dire need of them to eliminate the corruption and bloodshed that exists within the Iraqi society most importantly.