Hayv Kahraman

Hayv Kahraman like a card out of her recent exhibit “Waraq”, has her own experiences of immigrating, away from Baghdad; to Sweden, Italy and then the United States. Her life and work are a hybrid of east and west; she brings these cultures together in her work as she ingeniously blends Islamic, Persian, Japanese and Italian Schools of Art. She reminds us that it was these similar conditions of multiculturalism that gave birth to the golden age of Islamic thought and culture and awakened sensory appreciation.

Sparked by afternoons passing time playing waraq (cards) before her and many other left their homeland; this new card suite personifies the Iraqi Diaspora. It unfolds immigrant’s stories of “assimilation, alienation and discovery.” Kahraman has diligently stitched together these cards to form Al-Malwiya; a 4- meter hanging installation; that resembles an upside down ninth century minaret. Al Malwiya now stands as an Iraqi cultural landmark, one partially destroyed from the cycles of war that have taken over the country for last 18 years.

Most of Kahraman’s work is in ink on paper and oil on unprimed linen and wood. Her distinct style evolved out of her training in classical manor with a focus on Italian school of painting. She acknowledges that the fusion of cultures both aesthetically and culturally is fundamental to her 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 behavioral patterns.”

Kahrman cunningly addresses gender-based issues, difficulties faced by diasporic cultures of the Middle East and consequences of war. She delivers these issues with a rare combination of suspense, innocence, frankness and defiance. We meet her work with awe as we see how she captures human conditions and issues to which we otherwise turn a blind-eye.


Al Malwiya


Al Malwiya


Al Malwiya


Al Malwiya (w Kahraman)


Appearance of Control


Female genital mutilation


Collective Cut


Hold Still Please


Levelled Leisure




Three women hanging



Images and Information provided by Hayv Kahraman





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