Afifa Aleiby: Rivers Converging

June 10th - July 23rd
  • Afifa Aleiby

    Rivers Converging
  • Afifa Aleiby

    Group exhibitions include 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 Museum, Damascus, Syria (1986); Arabic Culture Centre, Damasco, Syria (1982).


    Highlights and collections. Afifa Aleiby's work is held in important public and private collections such as the 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 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 Aleiby

    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 (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).

  • Rivers Converging

    Rivers Converging

    A woman stands between the reeds of a river clutching her child to chest. We see her as she glimpses over her shoulder, moments before she lays the child into a basket and pushes him downstream. The full moon hangs behind a low mist, casting a strange half light across the scene that feels both furtive and dreamlike. Are we viewing the painted memory of a real escape? Or an imagined one? Rivers ConvergingAfifa Aleiby’s second solo exhibition with Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery presents a singular collection of paintings that explore notions of place and temporality. Drawing on personal memories, collective histories, social and political regimes, artistic movements and cultural identities, Aleiby creates highly compelling compositions that unravel deeper questions around how we represent subjective experience and form emotional connections.


    Born in Iraq in 1952, the artist moved to Russia (back then, the Soviet Union) to study monumental art. On the completion of her studies, she found herself unable to return home due to political conflicts and moved first to live in Italy and then Yemen, before finally settling in the Netherlands where she still resides. In each place, she found herself drawn to the rivers, as a symbol of fluidity and renewal as well as a site of familiarity. ‘The water is constantly in movement, constantly changing and producing something new. To me, it became like a symbol of cultural exchange,’ she says.