Ayad Alkadhi

Iraq 1971



Ayad Alkadhi
Ayad Alkadhi
September 27, 2015
Alias of Jasmina Sevic, a researcher and author for Widewalls. She graduated from the Faculty of Political Science (Department for Journalism) in Belgrade in 2013.

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.

Rape of Venus I, 2013 (Left) / Nefertiti in Blue Bra (frontal), 2013 (Right) use
Ayad Alkadhi – Rape of Venus I, 2013 (Left) / Nefertiti in Blue Bra (frontal), 2013 (Right)

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.

I am Baghdad series tackles social and political matters facing present-day Iraq and the wider Middle East

Shie i and Sunniuse painting use
Ayad Alkadhi – I am Baghdad – Shie’i & Sunni I, 2014 (Left) / I am Baghdad II – Shie’i & Sunni IV – 2014 (Right)

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.

Ayad Alkadhi lives and works in New York City.

Images copyright © the artist.

YearExhibition TitleMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
2015Making Movement, Asian Art BiennialNational Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, TaiwanGroup
2015More Than WordsAzrat gallery, NYCGroup
2015Color Polemics: Unpacking the Movement Towards Racial Equality and Identity in AmericaThe Gateway Project Studios, New JesrseyGroup
2015Prickly?Causey Contemporary, New YorkGroup
2015Islamic Calligaphy and Design in Contemporary Art, public talkHonolulu Museum of ArtGroup
2015Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic ArtHonolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, USGroup
2014Silents WordsLeila Heller Gallery, New YorkGroup
2014Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic ArtNevada Museum of Art, Nevada, USGroup
2014Unforgetting Iraq ExhibitKimballton, IowaGroup
2014Abu Dhabi ArtAbu Dhabi, UAEGroup
2014Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape, and Islamic ArtNasher Museum of Art at Duke University, DurhamGroup
2013Caligraffiti: 1984- 2013Leila Heller Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2013Art DubaiDubai, UAEGroup
2013The Armory showNew York, NYGroup
2013The Space Between ExhibitMana Contemporary & Leila Heller Gallery, New JerseyGroup
2013Public LectureRegis Center for Art, Minneapolis, MNGroup
2013Artist residencyThe Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts, HawaiiGroup
2013Public LectureThe University of Hawaii, Manoa Campus, Art BuildingGroup
2012Abu Dhabi ArtAbu DhabiGroup
2012Art PlatformLos Angeles, LAGroup
2012Cross-Currents: Tradition and Innovation in Contemporary Art of the Islamic WorldCollorado College I.D.E.A SpaceGroup
2012The Rule and its exception, Contemporary Middle Eastern ArtistsDeborah Colton GalleryGroup
2012Art DubaiDubai, UAEGroup
2012UmbilicalLeila Heller Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2011Abu Dhabi Art FairAbuDhabi, UAEGroup
2011LA ArtPlatformLos Angeles, Ca, USAGroup
2011Quest to Belong, presentation, DIWAN: A Forum for the ArtsArab American Museum, The Graduate Centre of City University of New York, New York, NYGroup
2011Navigating The Aftermath ExhibitQuarter Gallery, Regis Center for the Artst, Minneapolis, MNGroup
2010Peripheral Vision ExhibitMaraya Art Centre, Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAEGroup
2010Islam International ExhibitAB Gallery, Luzern, SwitzerlandGroup
2010Translation, Tarjama ExhibitHerbert Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, New YorkGroup
2010Art Dubai represented by Art Space GalleryDubai, UAEGroup
2009Ayad AlkadhiArt Space Gallery, Dubai, UAESolo
2009Einstein On Witherspoon ExhibitThe Bronfamn Centre, New York, NYGroup
2009Group exhibitArt Space Gallery, Dubai, UAEGroup
2009Bohamns Asian and Middle Eastern Art Exhibit and AuctionLondon, UKGroup
2009Translation ExhibitThe Queens Museum, Corona, NYGroup
2009The Hideen and the Unseen Dis-covering the VeilThe Austrian Cultural Forum, New York, NYGroup
2009Art DubaiMadinat Al Jumeirah, Dubai, UAEGroup
2008Iraqi Artists in Exile ExhibitThe Station Museum of Art, Huston, TXGroup
2008Restorations ExhibitEuropean Parliament Brussels, BelgiumGroup
2008Artists Council Juried exhibitPalm Springs Museum, Palm Springs, CAGroup