He hails from no less storied a place than Babylon — and we’re not talking Long Island. As a professor at Baghdad University and a member of the Iraq Freedom Art Movement, Saadi Babely escaped the regime of Saddam Hussein and its program of persecution of citizens involved in the arts, and would lose two of his siblings to Saddam’s troops. Educated in the United States, he made his way to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and eventually back to America, where the mythological figure of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar would once again take flight in his paintings.
Inspired by the deep history of his homeland while remaining contemporary in style and theme, Babely’s paintings are the subject of the latest art installation at Red Bank’s Oyster Point Hotel — Goddesses: An Art Collector Shares His Bounty. The exhibit — one of two debuting in town during the coming evenings — opens with a public-welcome reception this Thursday.