The Gallery of Imam Hussain: An Artistic Beacon in the Vicinity of the Holy Shrines

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Painting is an ancient art as old as humankind itself, through which one is able to express ones feelings and enact descriptions based upon imagination or observation. The development of this art has been a long one, with countless innovations leading from experiments with patterns to intricate compositions containing a wealth of ideas, thoughts and feelings. This inheritance of fine art is a golden chain connecting the greatness of the past and the glory of the present. 

Without question, art plays a significant role in all people’s lives. Indeed, art can be a very potent factor affecting society. One definition of art is that it is a way to express in tangible form religious or political concepts and beliefs, to the extent that some see art as a universal language which can communicate all the details of life between people of different times and places.
The art of painting, even with technological advancement, retains its specific identity and high station among the other arts. Through the artist’s imagination, painting transforms a blank, silent page into a rich conversation encompassing the religious, the political and the social, thus becoming something which can deliver a message. The Gallery of Imam Hussain seeks to deliver the message of Imam Hussain across the word through the language of art, illustrating the features of the immortal deeds of Imam Hussain. To learn more about the Gallery of Imam Hussain and its goals, the International Media Unit spoke with head of the gallery, Artist Hassan Hamza al-Shaher.

Reasons Behind its Founding

About the founding of the Gallery of Imam Hussain and the reasons behind its launch as a project helping to spread of the message of Imam Hussain, al-Shaher stated: "Those with some knowledge of Arab art will have noticed that there have been countless attempts to sideline the art of Islamic painting. Despite the emergence of some initiatives led by a number of Arab artists, this art form has remained shy compared to other cultures' significant investments in this field. This situation gave rise to the idea of establishing the Gallery of Imam Hussain to spread paintings of religious significance, this being an effective way to spread ideas in the modern world. We have, through the Gallery of Imam Hussain, tried to make an impact on the sentiments of the viewer, in addition to what can be achieved by Islamic lectures."

The Stages of Painting

When asked about the first step before beginning a painting, the head of the Gallery of Imam Hussain said, "Knowing or selecting the subject which the artist wants to portray in the painting is the first step. Since the Gallery of Imam Hussain is attached to the Holy Shrine of Imam Hussain, the subject ought to be inspired by the blessed message of Imam Hussain. The second step is sketching an outline on a wooden panel covered with canvas, which is the best surface oil paints, maintaining the paint's beauty over the long term and resistant to external factors like moisture."  
This second step is considered the foundation of the painting. After that, applying the colours begins, taking into consideration the distances and the brightness of the shades according to perspective. The final stage is of the most difficult one, which is applying the finishing artistic touches and details."

Accomplished Works

Regarding the number of paintings completed since the establishment of the gallery, al-Shaher told us as follows: "Until now, there have been 45 paintings painted by professional artists, the majority of whom have participated in international exhibitions in places such as the Iranian cities of Khuzestan and Tehran, as well as in Lebanon. As for local exhibitions, we have established two exhibitions in Bein al-Haramein, and we are ready to accept any invitations for participation that we may receive. Exhibitions are an excellent way to facilitate interaction and exchange both between artists and viewers."

Attracting Talented Artists 

Concerning the artists working in the Gallery of Imam Hussain, Hassan al-Shaher explained, "The Gallery of Imam Hussain has been able to attract skilled, professional artists as well as some talented beginners, who then have the opportunity to develop their talents, becoming more comfortable with how to portray a given idea."
 Al-Shaher concluded by saying, "The main goal of the Gallery of Imam Hussain is delivering the true message to the entire world through organizing international exhibitions and imbuing the paintings with the eternal message of Imam Hussain."


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