Afifa Aleiby (b.1953) is an Iraqi artist who was 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 continues to contribute to a great deal of cultural activities in support of the Iraqi and international democratic movement, in the struggle against terrorism, racism, war and dictatorship. Having not returned to her native country for 35 years, she has built a strong connection to every country she has lived in since leaving Iraq, both in a cultural and personal sense. Her connection to humanity and different cultures has led to solidarity transcending geographical and cultural borders becoming 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 Rivers Converging, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Berlin, Germany (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 (Upcoming) Singapore Biennale, Singapore (2022-23); Art Dubai, UAE (2022); 'Untitled Miami Beach', with Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Miami, USA (2022); When Images Speak: Highlights from the Dubai Collection, Etihad Museum (2021); 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 Museum, Damascus, Syria (1986); Arabic Culture Centre, Damasco, Syria (1982).

 

Highlights and collections

Afifa Aleiby's work can be found in prominent public and private collections such as the Azman Museum's collection, Farjam Foundation, Rana Sadik Collection, The Bunker Artspace Museum and Barjeel Foundation. In addition, she has participated in numerous exhibitions throughout 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. Afifa also had her work shown at the Singapore Biennale (2022-23).