Hayv Kahraman

Hayv Kahraman is an Iraqi artist whose work often deals with issues affecting her homeland.

Hayv Kahraman’s Statement:

“The figures in my work reside in a precarious state of terrifying contingency. Things are happening; will happen; have happened; things that will lacerate when spoken about and are considered taboo or too harsh to deal with let alone witness; nonetheless an aura of sublimity is cast upon the figures, enriching them with an ornate divinity achieved by simple yet meticulously calculated brush strokes. This dichotomy or battle of the opposites encompasses the human condition as a whole and exposes our universal values together with our detestable errors.

Working mainly in ink on paper and oil on unprimed linen and wood, surface is an integral aspect of my compositions and holds a theoretical connotation to the subject matter. The exposed backgrounds create a void that reinforces the perilous environment inhibited by the figures. I have also explored installation work as in project Al Malwiya and large scale sliding puzzles.

As I was trained in a classical manor with a focus on the Italian school of painting, my figures are semi realistically rendered symbolic representations of the modern platonic form of the feminine, an ambiguous existence on the cusp of dejection and defiance.

Through an inherent childlike innocence in movement and form these figures transcend the boundaries of our dismal human condition and seek to subvert and emancipate conventional representations and habitual thought. They are in short surreal documentations of truth.

Evoking concepts of socially coded modes of thought and behavior, gender based issues, dynamics found in diasporic cultures of the middle east, and war are the essence of my visual language and the product of my experience as an Iraqi immigrant. I am a hybrid of east and west in today’s growing global multiculturalism, the conditions of which are not dissimilar to those that gave birth to the golden age of Islamic thought and culture and paved the way to a refined state of sensory appreciation. Both aesthetically and conceptually the fusion of cultures are intrinsic to my work. Using the visual language of Bizhad, Islamic ornament, the Italian Renaissance, and Nihonga, I convey subversive figurative narratives that reflect societal concerns and defy doctrinal behavioural patterns.”

Some of Hayv Kahraman’s work:


Persian Couple 2:

Passing Time:

Nine Lives:

Migrant 4:

Migrant 6:

Migrant 7:

Migrant 8:

Migrant 9:

Migrant 10:


Check out Hayv Kahraman’s website:



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