Ahmed Falah, an Iraqi artist and ICORN resident of the city of Drøbak, will exhibit his work at the Norwegian Cartoonist Gallery starting on 29 January 2022. The exhibition titled “Satire Power’ will run until March and is Falah’s first solo exhibition in Norway. It will feature both new and retrospective pieces that prod and question issues both of a global scale or focused on the realities in Iraq, with explanations for Norwegian visitors.
Ahmed Falah is a painter, editorial cartoonist, graphic designer, and human rights defender, considered one of Iraq’s most influential and controversial cartoonists. He worked in Baghdad until 2014, when he had to flee the country due to threats on his life. Known for his sarcastic illustrations of Iraqi politicians and clergymen alike, Falah’s caricatures have appeared at most large demonstrations in Iraq. Many online and print newspapers and magazines, like AlAraby and Jadaliyya, have published articles and interviews on Falah’s artistic career and his influence on the Iraqi cartoonist movement. In 2020, Falah received Norwegian PEN’s Ossietzky Prize, alongside cartoonist Finn Graff and Siri Dokken, on behalf of all Norwegian cartoonists, for their outstanding efforts for freedom of expression. In 2021, he received a Fritt Ord scholarship and has begun to create cartoons focused on Norwegian themes.
In 2019, Falah was welcomed as an ICORN artist in residence in the Norwegian city of Drøbak with the support of the city’s municipality and the Norwegian Cartoonist Gallery (Avistegnernes hus). He is the fifth artist that the city has hosted as part of its commitment to support and defend freedom of expression by hosting persecuted artists, in particular cartoonists. Previous ICORN artists in residence include Fadi Abou Hassan and Arifur Rahman. Drobak’s particular commitment to hosting cartoonists stems from an initiative by the Norwegian Cartoonist Gallery with help from Frogn Municipality, as part of the museum’s continued efforts to support political cartooning everywhere. It was the Cartoonist Gallery’s wish to host cartoonists in particular that led to ICORN’s shift from originally helping only persecuted writers - to supporting artists in all fields.
Helge Lunde, Executive Director of ICORN: “Since the city of Drøbak became an ICORN member in 2009, and in partnership with the excellent Norwegian Cartoonists Gallery, they have specialized in hosting, protecting and promoting an impressive row of persecuted cartoonists from around the world. We are thrilled that Drøbak’s current ICORN resident, Iraqi artist, activist and political cartoonist Ahmed Falah will open his first solo exhibition at the Norwegian Cartoonist Museum this week, and expect a high turnout of viewers to visit and explore Falah’s impressive visual universe.”
Part of the Drobak’s rich cultural ecosystem included the Norwegian Cartoonist Gallery, founded in 1999 and part of a consolidated network of museums in the Greater Oslo area. The gallery is a meeting space for local cartoonists, as well as a center for the exhibition of expressive arts. Past exhibitions have showcased newspaper drawings, comics, political posters, caricatures, different forms of political commentary and satire. They have also organized several traveling exhibitions, including POLARIZATION
, where Ahmed Falah is also represented. Their commitment for both local and international cartoonists is perfectly illustrated in their leading role to organize Falah’s exhibition, as well as their support throughout his entire residency.
Since he arrived in Norway, Falah continues to be prolific with his cartoons and remains engaged and drawing about the situation in Iraq. This exhibition is particularly meaningful given that many of the drawings exhibited have had a direct impact on social movements in Iraq,
With many followers reaching out to Falah and thanking him for making these statements available to them. The impact of Falah’s work has also been felt in his new home. In 2020 he received support from Fritt Ord to develop a campaign for pandemic awareness “To fight Covid-19 Through Drawing
” which was used extensively by local governments in Norway. “Satire Power” includes works that range from the political and biting to the encouraging and life-affirming and is a reflection of the great power that satire wields.
Ahmed Falah: “These drawings are all I wanted to express, some carry direct messages, some more indirect. But above all, I want to reiterate that satire is a force that even the most dictatorial and bloodiest regimes cannot confront. The weapon of sarcasm hurts and terrifies the authorities. Let us use it whenever we can.”The xhibition “Satire Power'' will run from January 29-March 6. The exhibition launches with a print sale on Saturday January 29 where all the exhibited works will be available as art prints, signed and sold in limited editions of 20.
For more information on the exhibition (In Norwegian) head to the Norwegian Cartoonist Gallery website.