Afifa Aleiby is an Iraqi artist, born in the city of basra, in the utmost southern part of iraq. She grew up in a family devoted to culture and the arts and, like her brothers, she started painting from a very early age.
She received her primary and secondary education in basra, and consequently took up her studies at the institute of fine Arts in baghdad. in the same period she worked as an illustrator for the iraqi press. After this, she left iraq to Soviet Union in order to study and specialize in monumental art at the well-known Surikov institute in Moscow.
Due to the political situation in iraq, she was unable to return to her native country after the completion of her studies. She therefore decided to go to italy and later Moscow. After having traveled to italy a second time, she settled in yemen to work as a teacher at the institute of fine Arts in Aden, where she also illustrated children’s books and magazines.
In spite of all the difficulties surrounding her many relocations, moving from one country to another, she always continued to devote herself to her work as an artist. instead of focusing on the difficulties, she regarded her life with different languages and cultures an enrichment of her expertise and experience as an artist.
Afifa Aleiby has contributed to a great many cultural activities in support of the iraqi and international democratic movement, in the struggle against terrorism, racism, war and dictatorship. She has participated in numerous art exhibitions, from baghdad and Moscow to yemen, italy, Syria, lebanon, England and the United States, as a representative of the artistic and cultural face of the iraqi civilization.
During her youth, Afifa Aleiby was introduced to the international world of art through the books and publications in the library of her family in basra. it was thanks to her family’s support that she was able to develop her artistic talents through further study.
The developments that have taken place in her work over the years, during the various stages of her studies in Baghdad, Moscow, Italy and finally the Netherlands, will be become apparent to anyone following and studying her oeuvre.
In Iraq, she was deeply influenced by the work, and in particular the colors, of the french artist Toulouse lautrec and the works of Picasso’s pink period, as well as by the finesse of botticelli, Massaccio, Pierro della francesca and other italian Renaissance painters. During her time in italy, she would be in an ideal position to deepen this knowledge of italian Renaissance art through numerous and continuous visits to exhibitions, museums and churches.
While in Moscow, the spirituality of the Russian icons made a deep impression on her, especially during the early part of her studies. later on, her knowledge was further enriched through extensive study of the rich and varied Russian school.
Afifa Aleiby has been living and working in the Netherlands for several years now. Perhaps her most important show to date in the Netherlands was the retrospective of her works in the Museum Catharinagasthuis in Gouda. At present, she is working as a fulltime artist, periodically exhibiting her work in De Twee Pauwen gallery in The Hague, as well as contributing to other galleries, such as Goda in Amsterdam and Prima Vista in Maastricht.
Afifa Aleiby has been away from her native country of iraq for 35 years now. Although she has repeatedly moved between countries during this time, she has felt connected to every country she has stayed in and all manner of people crossing her path. What she feels, in short, is a connection to humanity as a whole. it is her conviction that it is this feeling of connection, this solidarity, transcending geographical and cultural borders, which should unite all of humanity.