About Afifa Aleiby

Afifa Aleiby (B.1952) is an Iraqi artist, born in the city of Basra, in the utmost southern part of Iraq. She took up her studies at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad while working as an illustrator for the Iraqi press, before leaving Iraq for the Soviet Union in 1974 to study and specialize in monumental art at the renowned Suikuv 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 and decided to move to Italy and later back to Moscow, before settling in Yemen to work as a teacher at the Institute of Fine Arts in Aden, where she also illustrated children’s books and magazines. Aleiby has since been living and working in the Netherlands and keeps contributing to a great deal of cultural activities in support or the Iraqi and international democratic movement, in the struggle against terrorism, racism, war and dictatorship. Not having returned to her native country for 35 years, she has built a strong connection to every country she has been living in since leaving Iraq, both in a cultural and personal sense. Her connection to humanity and different cultures has made solidarity transcending geographical and cultural borders an important theme in her work. Bringing together different influences from Renaissance painting to religious icons and social realism, she uses the female figure as a recurring motif to reflect beauty, taste, politics and society.

Solo exhibitions include Timeless Echoes, Zawyeh Gallery, Dubai (2023); Rivers Converging, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Berlin (2022); Landmarks of Estrangement, Picasso Gallery, Cairo, Egypt (2021); The Echo of Time, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London (2020); Re-Existence, Pulchri Studio, Den Haag, The Netherlands (2018); Boushahri Gallery, Kuwait City, Kuwait (2017); Boushahri Gallery, Kuwait City, Kuwait (2014); De Twee Pauwen, The Hague, The Netherlands (2014);Boushahri Gallery, Kuwait City, Kuwait (2010); Gallery Prima Vista, Maastricht, The Netherlands (2008); Galleria Tornabuoni, Florence, Italy (2008); Zink Exposities, Bergen, The Netherlands (2008); Transit Art, Amersfoort, The Netherlands (2008); Arabic Cultural Centre, Brussels, Belgium (1999).

Group exhibitions include the 7th Singapore Biennale (2022); When Images Speak: Highlights from the Dubai Collection, Etihad Museum (2022); Facing the Sun, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Schloss Görne, Germany (2021); Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011 at MOMA PS1, NY (2019-2020); Beirut Biennale, Beirut, Lebanon (2000); Fortezza S. Francesco. Omaggio a Dilvio Lotti, San Miniato, Italy (1997); Het Veen, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (1997); Sale Topical, omaggio Gino Severini, Montespertoli, Italy (1995); Centro culturale Studio Palazzo, Festival dei due mondi, Spoleto, Italy (1993); Folklore Musume, Damascus, Syria (1986); Arabic Culture Centre, Damasco, Syria (1982).

Highlights and Collections

Aleiby’s work is held in important public and private collections such as Azman Museum’s collection, Farjam Foundation, Rana Sadik Collection, Beth Rudin de Woody Collection and Barjeel Foundation. In addition, she has participated in numerous exhibitions through out her career, 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.