Iraqi-born artist Ayad Alkadhi uses Arabic calligraphy in the form of calligrams, or figurative imagery composed of interwoven written words, to create narratives within his work concerning the themes of religion, politics, and culture. His recent paintings reflect the war in Iraq and its psychological, emotional, and social ramifications for the modern Iraqi population.
Alkadhi works in series, his latest series being Al-Ghareeb (which translates as “stranger” or “the strange one”) and Father of No One’s Son. Al-Ghareeb explores the complex emotions of fear, loss of control, anger, and rebellion in a war-torn society. Most of the figures used in this series are based on photographs of the artist himself taken by photographer/video artist Scott Gerst, lending an intensely personal aspect to the works while simultaneously drawing attention to the position and problem of the artist surrounded by war. The faces of the figures are obscured by weaponry and masks illustrated using the elegant Arabic script, as seen above in If Words Could Kill II, thus elevating the emotional content of the work by referencing imprisonment and torture.
Alkadhi received a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Sciences from the University of Technology in Baghdad. He has exhibited at the Orfally Gallery in Baghdad, but left Iraq at 23 after the first Gulf War. He has had a solo show at the Aeotea Gallery in Auckland, New Zealand before moving to New York in 2000 where he earned a scholarship to the ITP/Tisch School of the Arts graduate program at New York University. Since then, he has shown at the Fire Island Pines Arts Project‘s 9th Biennial, The National Arts Club and Nader Gallery in New York, and Exposure Gallery in Palm Springs, California.