Paul Batou is one of the many talented artists who has participated in the Assyrian Cultural Foundation’s Fine Arts Competitions. In 2019, his painting, Languages and Colors, even won first place. Did you know that in addition to being an artist, Batou is also a pharmacist?
Batou was born in 1959 to an Assyrian/Chaldean family in a village in Iraq that bordered with Turkey. Unfortunately, he and his family had to flee from their home when he was two years-old because the Kurds ethnically cleansed it. After wandering around as refugees, his family finally chose to settle in Baghdad.
Despite the trials that he faced, Batou persevered in his education. Always interested in drawing, Batou desired to pursue art after high school. However, to Batou’s dismay, Iraq’s universities only allowed Ba’athist party members to enter their art programs, so Batou enrolled in pharmacy school instead. Despite his disappointment, Batou continued to pursue art on the side, and studied under the Iraqi artist, Abdul Elah Yassin, for four years.
After Batou graduated from pharmacy school, he desired to get a master’s degree in toxicology, but could not due to the oppressive political nature of the country. Instead, he was sent to the front lines of the Iran-Iraq War where he used his pharmaceutical skills to aid the wounded. The Iraqi Army released him after five years of service. Soon afterwards, Batou and his wife left Iraq and eventually established a new home for themselves in Los Angeles.
Today, Batou works in California as both a pharmacist and an artist. Despite all of the hardship and ugliness that Batou has faced throughout his life, his artwork evokes hope. Most of his paintings reflect themes related to his Assyrian heritage and burst with bright colors. Batou has published three books. The first, My Last Thoughts about Iraq, contains an anthology of his poems. The second and third are a 2-volume compilation of his artwork called My Art, My People: My Journey into Mesopotamia through Colors, volumes 1 and 2. If you are interested in purchasing any of his books, please contact Paul Batou at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Esther Lang
Bibliography ACF Art Competition Winners. Assyrian Cultural Foundation. https://www.auaf.us/blog/acf-art-competition-winners/ (accessed March 19, 2021).
Batou, Paul. My Last Thoughts about Iraq. [Bloomington, IN]: Xlibiris, 2007.
Kiryakos, Adessa. “Paul Batou.” Interview with Paul Batou. Assyrian Podcast. Podcast audio. September 11, 2018. https://podcast.assyrianpodcast.com/e/paul-batou/ (accessed March 19, 2021).
Namou, Weam. “Interview with Artist and Author Paul Batou.” Chaldean Cultural Center. August 4, 2020. YouTube video, 35:42. https://www.chaldeanculturalcenter.org/interview-with-artist-and-author-paul-batou/ (accessed March 19, 2021).
“Paul Batou Art.” Fine Art America. https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/paul-batou (accessed March 19, 2021).
Yousif, David. Iraqi Brains: Between Exile and Assassination. Glendale, CA: David Y. Yousif, 2008.