Khalid Al-Rahhal (Iraq, 1926-1987)
Although better known as a sculptor, Khalid Al-Rahhal, was an accomplished painter, whose works can be found in a number of museum collections. His most famous work is the Al-Jundi al-Majhoul or the Monument of the Unknown Soldier of 1982 that stands in Baghdad. Surprisingly little has been written about him, given his significance for modern Iraqi art.
Born in Baghdad in 1926, Khalid al-Rahhal graduated with a Diploma in Sculpture from the Fine Arts Institute, where Jewad Selim taught, in 1947. Like Selim, he also worked with the Directorate of Antiquities in Baghdad for a time and developed an understanding of Mesopotamian art. He was a key member of the Baghdad Modern Arts Group, whose manifesto was to create a national identity for Iraqi modern art by combining the legacy of their past with innovations of the modern day. In 1954, he was awarded a scholarship to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, which gave him a further grasp of the fundamentals of European sculpture.
Khalid al-Rahhal's body of work included a number of large-scale monuments in Iraq. He achieved high critical acclaim both at home and internationally, including five national awards in Iraq and three in Italy. Major works are now in the National Art Gallery of Modern Art, Baghdad, in Moscow, New York, Shanghai, Paris, Rome, Venice, Lucca and Messina.