Art that transcends politics

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It is difficult to reconcile the lively, popping colors and energetic paint treatment of Lukman Ahmad’s acrylic and watercolor paintings with his personal history: The Kurdish artist began his painting career in Syria in 1986 and was eventually granted political asylum in the US in 2010. Ahmad is no stranger to repression, having been interrogated for his beliefs. Yet he is able to infuse “the Kurdish spirit of hope” in his current show Hope and Freedom at the Crossroads Gallery.

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The paintings exude optimism and rich cultural references – noble horses, golden sunflowers, native costumes, twirling dances, doves, and the coming of spring evident in the yellow, white and red colors of the Kurdish flag. 

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There were a few pieces that the artist identified as his ‘Syrian works’ (see image below), and here we can see darker sentiments that correlate more closely to the ongoing conflict in Syria that has spawned a humanitarian and geopolitical crisis in the region.

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Judging by the large number of sold stickers on his paintings, I was not the only one to find an immediate connection to the exuberance and spontaneity of Ahmad’s work.

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Lukman Ahmad’s paintings address a tier of art buyer that appreciates the transparency and immediacy of work that is readily understood on a universal, visceral level.

Through March 23rd, 2014 at Crossroads Gallery, Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossing, Falls Church VA. More of the artist’s work at

It’s a______(girl/boy/gallery opening)!!!!


After last Saturday’s opening of my new exhibition Summer in Paris, it struck me that giving birth and having an opening reception for a solo show have a lot in common. There’s at least a 9-month gestation period (in this case, make that 18 months), there is an enormous amount of mental and physical anguish, and when the opening night finally arrives, you are surrounded by well-wishers congratulating you and gawking at what you managed to produce, exposed to public scrutiny for the first time. Downright nerve racking!


All in all, mother and baby are doing well, thanks for asking. The evening went splendidly, with a nice turnout, some sales, and I gave a successful talk about Paris and portraiture to over 100 people. If you were able to join me, thank you, and if you were not able to make it, see you in the delivery room next time round 🙂

Seated audience waiting for my artist's talk
Seated audience waiting for my artist’s talk
Beret-clad staff member at Goodwin House serving French delicacies
Beret-clad staff member at Goodwin House serving French delicacies
Decisions, decisions
Decisions, decisions


Artist (left) and gallery director Lynda Smith-Bugge at Crossroads Gallery
Artist (left) and gallery director Lynda Smith-Bugge at Crossroads Gallery

Photos courtesy of Alan Merbaum.


More exciting news hot off the press today: I have been interviewed by the charming Francophile online magazine A Woman’s Paris.

Where’s the boob?

Where's the boob

The boob will steal the show every time, guaranteed. Yesterday, I hung my show ‘Summer in Paris’ – some 30 Parisian portrait paintings at Crossroads Gallery in Goodwin House, Falls Church, VA. The series represents over a year’s concentrated work painting the people I came across in my extended stays in Paris over the last few years. One – and only one – of the contemporary portraits is partially unclothed. Yet, for the residents of Goodwin House, the buzz was all about “The Boob”!!!! Faces are fascinating, but they just can’t compete with a naked breast!

Summer in Paris at Crossroads Gallery
Summer in Paris at Crossroads Gallery

The gallery is a real find – tucked away in a very art-minded, well-appointed elderly community development called Goodwin House. The gallery space is open, well-trafficked and the staff could not have been more accommodating. Opening reception will feature French sweets and wine served by beret-clad staff, and a wandering accordionist playing French music. You have to come see it for yourselves: July 13th, 2013 at 6:45 pm!


You can watch a short video (

about the inspiration for the show or read more details in the press release here.