Athar was born in 1982 in Rome to Iraqi parents. He currently lives and practises his profession as a sculptor and professor of sculpture at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium. Having moved around a number of countries and cities helped reinforce a sense of belonging that went beyond geographical borders. This notion acted as the framework to his sculptures, in a desire to outline a common human experience across culture and time.

Having been brought up with images of the gulf war, themes such as suffering and violence became inevitable. Meanwhile, growing up in Florence allowed him to develop an understanding of the classical sculpture that embellishes the city—sculpture defined by its quest for ideal beauty. Athar seeks to explore the contrasting conditions of violence and beauty that have played a significant role in his development as an artist.