About the Author: Virginia Shore serves as Chief Curator for ART in EMBASSIES.
This week, the permanent art exhibition for the Baghdad Chancery and New Office Annex was installed. ART in EMBASSIES selected and commissioned the work of twenty-five American, Iraqi-American, and Iraqi artists. Of note are the works of Alexis Rockman. Rockman was commissioned to create one painting, entitled “Mesopotamia” (oil on canvas, pictured above), and ten watercolors relating to the natural world of Iraq.
Next month, a retrospective of Alexis Rockman will open at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. For two decades, Alexis Rockman has been depicting the natural world with virtuosity and wit. He was one of the first contemporary artists to build his career around exploring environmental issues, from evolutionary biology and genetic engineering to deforestation and climate change.
Rockman has garnered attention for embracing these issues, as well as for the epic nature of his projects, including several monumentally-scaled canvases. His work expresses deep concerns about the world's fragile ecosystems and the tension between nature and culture, communicated through vivid, even apocalyptic, imagery. Rockman achieves his vision through a synthesis of fantasy and empirical fact, using sources as varied as natural history, botanical illustrations, museum dioramas, science fiction films, realist art traditions dating back to the Renaissance, and first-hand field study. The office of ART in EMBASSIES also commissioned Rockman to create a work for the New Embassy Compound in Antananarivo, Madagascar, based on his studies of lemurs that he conducted in that country with the Lemur Conservancy Group.