Paintings by Iraqi artist Kifah Abdulla will be featured at an exhibit at Beth Israel Congregation, 291 Main St. in Waterville. The exhibit “Freeing the Captive” will open with a reception set for 6:30-8:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11, at Beth Israel. The evening will feature Iraqi food and a talk by the artist. The exhibit will remain up through Oct. 25 and can be seen by appointment or at synagogue events.

The exhibit showcases a selection of paintings by artist, activist and poet, Kifah Abdulla. The exhibit depicts Abdulla’s experience as a prisoner of war in Iran, where he was jailed for eight years. Using bold colors, Cubist-inspired human forms, and modern applications of Arabic calligraphy, Abdulla draws inspiration from a myriad of sources and experiments with different styles as vehicles for storytelling.

Abdulla populates his works with vibrant color, rendering the difficult subject material of his imprisonment more accessible. Of the exhibit Abdulla says, “the story (of “Freeing the Captive”) is that I survived. I was strong, not in muscle, but my soul was strong. All the time I was in prison my mind was colorful, even though my uniform was gray. They captured my body but not my imagination.”

In addition to painting, Abdulla has published a volume of poetry titled Dead Still Dream (2016) and is preparing to publish a memoir titled, Mountains Without Peaks. Abdulla reads his poetry accompanied by a cellist at venues around Maine.

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