Paul Batou

About Paul Batou

Technique: Acrylic on canvas

Assyrian Artist Paul Batou was born in Tin (Duhok, Iraq) in 1959. He started his art career after completing his study in pharmacy, but did not apply for the art school in Bagdad because it would accept only Baathist regime members close to the government.

His first exhibition was in 1980. In 1982 he was forced to serve as a pharmacist and medic in the Iraqi army and was drawn into the Iraq-Iran war for five years. Freedom was the driving force for his decision to leave Iraq. In 1989 he moved first to Athens before settling later in the the United States where his work was exhibited in many galleries. In 2007 Paul published his book titled: ‘My Last Thoughts about Iraq.’

Paul writes: ‘Study, religion, the gypsy culture, writing poems, painting, and playing classical guitar became my passions and my escape from radical society. Those hobbies provided me with the ideals to live by and the freedom to express myself among people who fear God and pray all day. The turning point in my search for that freedom was when I started reading and painting the Epic of Gilgamesh. That story had a major impact in my thinking as a human and as an artist. Gilgamesh, and his long journey and search for life, love, and freedom opened my mind and caused me to look back to my roots as a Mesopotamian. I became more determine to love my land and my people, and to fully understand that this is my Iraq, not owned by Shiites, Sunnis, or Kurds. My colors are united in one art piece reflecting the tone of the Earth, the language of the universe, the cry and pain of the oppressed people.’

The research project “Gilgamesh: Untold Experiences of Vulnerable Groups” is co-financed by the Swedish Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.