Paul Batou paints scenes of ancient civilizations and the modern
societies that arose after their destruction. Side by side, his
acrylic paintings of Iraq and the United States can be mistaken as
That is not his intention, however.
In a new exhibit at the Harvest Gallery, 938 N. Brand Blvd., Batou
depicts scenes of ancient Babylonian and Kurdish soldiers engaged in
genocide against Iraqi Christians, as well as scenes of the Native
American West and a painting of New York’s skyline adjacent to one of
a Baghdad neighborhood.
The paintings, the Burbank resident said, are meant to represent
the beauty of Iraq and United States’ ancient civilizations, and
their transformations into the cities and countries that people see
“A lot of great civilizations have been destroyed by invaders,” he
Batou grew up in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s regime. He trained
to become a pharmacist at the University of Baghdad, but after
refusing to join the Baath Party, his student privileges were
revoked, he said.
Batou, 44, was forced into the Iraqi Army in 1984 and was a medic
on the front lines in Iraq’s war against Iran. He saw horrible images
of the war’s wounded, but they do not show up in his work.
Rather, he presents the larger picture, the relationship between
destruction and rebirth, he said.
In one of his works, a lone Indian sits and watches the arrival of
settlers, and the end of a way of life. In other paintings, there are
small western towns and cowboys at work roping steer.
The final phase of the United States’ makeover is depicted in the
painting of the New York cityscape.
This is Batou’s first exhibit in the United States. He immigrated
with his wife and child in 1989. He works as a pharmacist in Burbank.
“Hopefully, people will learn the history of the countries,” he
said of the exhibit.
His exhibit runs through Sunday. The gallery is open from 11 a.m.
to 7 p.m.