Ayad Alkadhi is a United States-based Iraqi artist who not infrequently reflects on divisions between East and West in his practice. Born in 1971 in Baghdad, Alkadhi spent his early years between the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and his native country. He left his hometown in 1994, shortly after the conclusion of the first Gulf War when a coalition of allies, led by the US, fought the Iraqi army after it invaded Kuwait. He spent some time in Amman, Jordan and Auckland, New Zealand, but finally settled down in the USA where he received an MFA from New York University’s ITP School of the Arts.
Alkadhi’s earlier thick, carved calligraphic paintings celebrates Baghdad’s rich cultural tradition, and also responds to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. He focuses on the human condition under extreme political and social circumstances. Using Arabic newspaper on mixed-media canvases, as well as the calligraphy, the artist critiques the 2003 U.S. invasion of his native country, alluding the tens of thousands of unreported Iraqi casualties, destroyed civilian infrastructure including hospitals, schools and educational institutions as well as civilians’ private homes. One series of his paintings is influenced by Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse.
Some of his most famous series of work include I am Baghdad (2008-2015) – tackling social and political matters facing present-day Iraq and the wider Middle East; Umbilical (2011-2012) – inspired by the Arab Spring; If Words Could Kill (2013- 2015) – inspired by the art of the calligram. I am Baghdad (Shie’i & Sunni) is one of the artist’s latest series of works focusing on the topic of the Shei’a and Sunna sectarian conflict that has boiled to a crescendo after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
While his earlier mixed media pieces are characterized by graphic images and references to the political situation in his native country, his recent work is less political and more painterly. It is characterized by the looser calligraphy (Arabic graffiti) and abstracted figures.
He has participated in many individual and collective exhibitions throughout the world including the United States, the Middle East, New Zealand, Belgium and the UK, among others. He has exhibited at the Honolulu Museum of Art, Nasher Museum of Art, Herbert Johnson Museum, Nevada Museum of Art, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and Queens Museum of Art, to name a few.
He is represented by Azart Gallery in New York.
Images copyright © the artist.
|2015||Making Movement, Asian Art Biennial||National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan||Group|
|2015||More Than Words||Azrat gallery, NYC||Group|
|2015||Color Polemics: Unpacking the Movement Towards Racial Equality and Identity in America||The Gateway Project Studios, New Jesrsey||Group|
|2015||Prickly?||Causey Contemporary, New York||Group|
|2015||Islamic Calligaphy and Design in Contemporary Art, public talk||Honolulu Museum of Art||Group|
|2015||Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art||Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, US||Group|
|2014||Silents Words||Leila Heller Gallery, New York||Group|
|2014||Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art||Nevada Museum of Art, Nevada, US||Group|
|2014||Unforgetting Iraq Exhibit||Kimballton, Iowa||Group|
|2014||Abu Dhabi Art||Abu Dhabi, UAE||Group|
|2014||Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic Art||Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham||Group|
|2013||Caligraffiti: 1984- 2013||Leila Heller Gallery, New York, NY||Group|
|2013||Art Dubai||Dubai, UAE||Group|
|2013||The Armory show||New York, NY||Group|
|2013||The Space Between Exhibit||Mana Contemporary & Leila Heller Gallery, New Jersey||Group|
|2013||Public Lecture||Regis Center for Art, Minneapolis, MN||Group|
|2013||Artist residency||The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts, Hawaii||Group|
|2013||Public Lecture||The University of Hawaii, Manoa Campus, Art Building||Group|
|2012||Abu Dhabi Art||Abu Dhabi||Group|
|2012||Art Platform||Los Angeles, LA||Group|
|2012||Cross-Currents: Tradition and Innovation in Contemporary Art of the Islamic World||Collorado College I.D.E.A Space||Group|
|2012||The Rule and its exception, Contemporary Middle Eastern Artists||Deborah Colton Gallery||Group|
|2012||Art Dubai||Dubai, UAE||Group|
|2012||Umbilical||Leila Heller Gallery, New York, NY||Solo|
|2011||Abu Dhabi Art Fair||AbuDhabi, UAE||Group|
|2011||LA ArtPlatform||Los Angeles, Ca, USA||Group|
|2011||Quest to Belong, presentation, DIWAN: A Forum for the Arts||Arab American Museum, The Graduate Centre of City University of New York, New York, NY||Group|
|2011||Navigating The Aftermath Exhibit||Quarter Gallery, Regis Center for the Artst, Minneapolis, MN||Group|
|2010||Peripheral Vision Exhibit||Maraya Art Centre, Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE||Group|
|2010||Islam International Exhibit||AB Gallery, Luzern, Switzerland||Group|
|2010||Translation, Tarjama Exhibit||Herbert Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, New York||Group|
|2010||Art Dubai represented by Art Space Gallery||Dubai, UAE||Group|
|2009||Ayad Alkadhi||Art Space Gallery, Dubai, UAE||Solo|
|2009||Einstein On Witherspoon Exhibit||The Bronfamn Centre, New York, NY||Group|
|2009||Group exhibit||Art Space Gallery, Dubai, UAE||Group|
|2009||Bohamns Asian and Middle Eastern Art Exhibit and Auction||London, UK||Group|
|2009||Translation Exhibit||The Queens Museum, Corona, NY||Group|
|2009||The Hideen and the Unseen Dis-covering the Veil||The Austrian Cultural Forum, New York, NY||Group|
|2009||Art Dubai||Madinat Al Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE||Group|
|2008||Iraqi Artists in Exile Exhibit||The Station Museum of Art, Huston, TX||Group|
|2008||Restorations Exhibit||European Parliament Brussels, Belgium||Group|
|2008||Artists Council Juried exhibit||Palm Springs Museum, Palm Springs, CA||Group|