Dia Al-Azzawi is one of Iraq’s most influential living artists.

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About

Having moved to the UK in 1976, Al-Azzawi found that by viewing Iraq from afar, he could understand more about Iraqi and Arabic culture than if he had remained. Al-Azzawi’s vast drawing Sabra and Shatila Massacre 1982–3, currently on show at Tate Modern, is an example of work that arose from this process of observation.

Made in response to the 1982 massacre of Palestinian refugees in Beirut by Christian Lebanese Phalangists, the killings took place over several days in refugee camps kept under guard by the Israeli Defence Force. Al-Azzawi explains how working from imagination, he delineated the scenes of chaos and horror in a semi-abstract style to create a work that is not a propaganda piece, but which documents a tragedy.