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 Hayv Kahraman  (1981 - )

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Lived/Active: Arizona / Iraq      Known for: painting

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Ad Code: 3
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from Auction House Records.
The Collective Cut
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Hayv Kahraman was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1981. At the age of 11, she moved with her family to Sweden during the First Gulf War. She currently lives and works in Arizona, USA. She graduated with a degree in graphic design from the Accademia di Arte e Design di Firenze, Florence, Italy and a degree in web design from the University of Umea, Sweden. Kahraman has exhibited internationally in solo exhibitions such as Waraq at the Frey Norris Gallery, San Francisco, USA as well as group exhibitions including Life Drawing at The Third Line Gallery, Dubai, UAE. Exhibited: Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East, Saatchi Gallery, London, 30 January - 9 May 2009. Publication: Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East, published by Booth-Clibborn Editions, 2009.

Biography from Sotheby's Doha:
The Iraqi artist, Hayv Kahraman addresses a variety of contemporary social issues through her distinguished body of work, examples of which are currently featured amongst several eminent collections including that of the Saatchi Gallery in London and the MATHAF Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha.  Topics the artist has explored throughout the course of her career include an ongoing exploration into the importance of the body as well as investigating the concept of societal change and issues of gender within the wider context of the diaspora which are rooted in her background as an Iraqi émigré. 

A theme eloquently expressed throughout her body of work is that of the social issues faced by women within the Middle East.  Kahraman explores these ideas with mesmerizing subtlety and an elegant graphic approach.  Though engaging with complex subject matters, Kahraman manages to imbue her work with a captivating grace and beauty that exert a classical and timeless feel.  Kahraman argues that while admiring the idea of "art for art's sake", it is important for her to communicate a strong message through her work, an idea expressed by the critic Robert Hughes: "If art can't tell us about the world we live in then there is not much point in having it."

Kahraman's body of work reunites eclectic sources of inspiration, including traditional Japanese prints, Art Nouveau, Persian miniature painting and fashion imagery.  The notion of space is vital to Kahraman, as she constantly strives to understand and redefine boundaries in which social and political turbulences prevail.  While artists such as Laylah Ali, Marcel Dzama and Amy Cutler use fantasy and disarmingly endearing drawings to express complex, wounded realities, Kahraman's illustrations demonstrate the difficulties facing women in the Middle East, addressing specific aspects of Middle Eastern identity such as traditional courtly garments, ethnic instruments and tessellated patterns, and combining these characteristics into accessible and seductive fairy-tale imagery.

A remarkable early work by Kahraman depicts the scriptural story of the Sacrifice of The Lamb, a legend recorded both in the Qur'an and the Bible.  Abraham was told by God in a vision to sacrifice his only son as proof of his unquestioning devotion.  In seeing the extent of Abraham's faith God allowed the substitution of a ram in the boy's place.  This event is symbolically repeated during the most important Islamic festival, Eid al-Adha, where lambs are sacrificed as part of this religious celebration.  By means of combining a universally emotive story with astonishing technical virtuosity, Kahraman has created encompassing various ideas into accessible and seductive fairy-tale imagery with astonishing power and impact.

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