- Iraqi Art
For Lorna Selim, the quotidian scenes of Baghdad provided an endless source of artistic inspiration, once stating ‘For me, the sight of women wearing the black abbayah, but with the brightly coloured dresses on, was a gift for the artist to paint.’ She was also influenced by the architectural style of her husband, Jewad Salim, who was equally inspired by her appreciation of the visual vocabulary that the city had to offer. These sources of inspiration are captured in Oriental Widow, where the Iraqi figures interface with architectural structures that evoke Jewad’s famous last commission, the Monument of Freedom. In this light, Oriental Widow is perhaps an autobiographical reference made by the artist, following the death of her husband in 1961.
Oriental Widow is a unique painting in Lorna Selim’s oeuvre, due to the artist´s use of bronze green. In the majority of Selim’s work the colour green is rarely present, due to her primary subject, the arid Iraqi landscape. The colour was actually inspired out of love of a bronze relief, Jewad’s last work which he painted bronze green. In Lorna’s words, ‘It was his finest work and I loved the colour, it was perfect.’ Contrary to popular opinion, the dark tone of palette in Oriental Widow is not symbolic of the Selim´s disposition at the time, as maintained in an interview where the artist stated ‘It is very important to me that I was no painting in dark colours because I was sad, it was just the way that it developed…’
Front: Signed and dated (in Arabic)