This is a mixed media work by the eminent, major Iraqi artist KHALID AL RAHAL (1926-1987), the subject being seven individuals grouped into what looks like two families with children. The painting is apparently a plaster mix covered by resin, on panel, standing out in three dimensional relief, and then painted, the work measuring 15 1/2" by 19 1/2" (21 3/8" by 25" as framed). It is signed at lower left "Kalid" and dated there "64". The artist is one of Iraq's most famous, and works now sell at major auctions in the west to the $30,000 range. Al Rahal was born in Baghdad and was educated in the arts there, receving a diploma at age 20, and joining the Baghdad Modern Arts Group. By 1964 he was in Rome, studying there at the Academy of Fine Arts. Thereafter he exhibited in exhibitions within Iraq and abroad, meeting and exchanging ideas with international artists. By the late 1970's he was so well known in Iraq that Saddam Hussein asked him to design the now famous 24 ton bronze crossed swords statue in Baghdad, the iconic "Hands of Victory Arch", even though he did not live long enough to witness its completion in 1986. Al Rahal also completed other major public statues in Baghdad, including the "Our Lady of the Marshes" installed in the central square of Sadr City, Due to violence and political considerations, his public sculptures were dismantled or removed in 2005, including the memorial of al-Maseera, which was considered a Baathist narrative, and the Abu Jafar al-Mansur work, considered offensive to Shiites. Of the al-Maseera work has been written "Then there was the monument Naseb al-Masseera (Monument of the Path), which, like the Abu Jafar bust was made by a sculptor named Khalid al-Rahal, a pioneering Iraqi artist. The monument showed men and women in clothing from different historical periods in Iraqi history. They were all climbing a hill and gathering on the top of it to show that the Iraqi people always look for the top where there is a better future, and also to represent the kind of achievements they have made to take them there. This monument was removed because it was made in the days of Saddam." Al Rahal late in his life most definitely had the ear of Saddam Hussein, though one might say that that association did not necessarily aid him in achieving recognition. It has taken some time for his work to achieve recognition, and the auction records of very recent years now speak for the quality of his vision. This example is in excellent condition. There are interesting abstract cuts in the plywood on the reverse that could be just idle cuts, or acquired scrapes, but they appear to have a pattern and I wonder if they might be some sort of studies by the artist. See the net for much more on the artist and his works, including images of the famous sculptures and other paintings that have appeared at auction.