Ayad Alkadhi is originally from Baghdad, Iraq — a city renowned for its plethora of talented artists, scientists, physicians and intellectuals. For the past 14 years Ayad has been based in New York, where he now has a collection of his thought-provoking work on display at the Leila Heller Gallery. The exhibition was curated by the renowned Middle East art historian Dr. Shiva Balaghi of Brown University.
The Iraqi artist’s work is inspired by Middle Eastern politics, calligraphy and stories of the human condition. Much of his work features a portrait of a face, drawn over by swooping, definitive curves of Arabic calligraphy, or re-imagined portraits of historical figures, like Venus and Nefertiti, with oriental imagery. Despite his digital and multimedia arts background at NYU, Ayad feels most connected with painting as his primary medium. He employs different kinds of paints, everything from house paints to acrylics, and he mixes in use of pen, pencil, Arabic newspapers, and charcoal for a mixed media almost collage-like feel. “Art is a form of expression. As you know, there is so much that needs to be expressed in the Arab world. Change is all around. Also, art is a form of documentation — in 100 years, people will look back at the art of today as an indication and reference,” says Ayad. And it’s true. Art, and architecture, work as forms of memory; symbols of the past and images to inspire the future.
Ayad is happy with the evolution the art world has seen in the Middle East. “It [the art scene] has changed immensely — it’s far more sophisticated and evolved than it has ever been. I think the emergence of the Dubai art scene and the internet has played a great role in the change of the Arab art scene,” he adds. renowned Middle East art historian Dr. Shiva Balaghi of Brown University. I could not have had the show without her.