In recognition of the innocent victims of the Lebanese Civil War, which occurred from 1975-1990, graduate student Hala Kobaissi presented “Days of Wrath,” a painting exhibition depicting images of the violence and injustice against an innocent people.
Kobaissi presented nine paintings, which she said she felt give people an understanding of the horrors that occurred during the war. She said she wants to warn people that this sort of thing still goes on today.
“I’m trying to bring a summary of what happened,” Kobaissi said. “(That is) the same kind of war going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Kobaissi said she has experienced the horrors and destructive powers of war first hand and hoped to bring some light to these realities.
“When I read the news, it takes me back to Lebanon,” Kobaissi said.
Kobaissi depicted scenes of assassinations, untargeted bombardments, car bombs, massacres and abductions throughout several of her paintings, each with it’s own theme.
In “1975,” she depicted the early signs of war with buildings that appeared to be in good shape, yet smoke could already be seen rising above them. Sniper warning signs alerted pedestrians not to walk through dangerous paths in the painting. A bus represented an incident where 22 Palestinians were killed, which ignited conflict in Lebanon.
Kobaissi explained how belonging to one particular side, perhaps a certain religious belief or political party, could get a person killed if caught in the wrong place. She clearly displayed an example of this in “1977” which shows the “wall of death,” where blood stains remain as evidence of the execution of a group of people who were lined up against the wall and shot.
“Have You Seen Us” depicts friends and relatives of kidnapped people looking for their loved ones. As part of the painting she included newspaper clips of downtown Beirut, which show the results of car bombings and a car execution, all daily activities in war.
Another display of violence committed against innocent people in her work is “Explosion,” with scenes of the bloody and gory results of a car bombing. A person, perhaps a family member, carries a bloody dead body. This painting includes a newspaper clipping as the centerpiece.
“I (implemented) newspaper clippings to ensure credibility,” Kobaissi said.
Kobaissi said that as time went on, hopes of reaching some peace dwindled; therefore she had to find comfort by imagining a place without war where she wouldn’t have to worry about being killed for walking down the street.
In her “1979” painting, she depicted drawings of children who, when asked to do art activities in school, would immediately respond by drawing tanks and men with guns.
“War was all we knew,” Kobaissi said. “It was chaos beyond the mind.”
“Run or else” is a great representation of the armed civilians who really had no chance against the military. Kobaissi posed the question, “what could they do?”
“This is the harassment of the people,” Kobaissi said. “This is metaphoric for everything the military used over people.”
In 1995, Kobaissi moved to the United States in hopes of finding the peace she had longed for as a child, and said it was a search for life itself.
The tragedies of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks have brought her to the realization that war was not just limited to Lebanon, but plagued the entire world.
Faced with the unsettling fact of wars presence in all parts of the world, she chose her topic for her artwork. She hopes that her work will make people aware of the cruel realities of war, and hopefully shed some light on those still affected by it.
“Communication is better than fighting,” Kobaissi said. “I want people to be aware that war is not the answer. It causes killing, damage and devastation.”
She said that people are dying innocently because it is wrong to fight terror with terror.