Hayv Kahraman

Heads on Plate, 2008,  oil on linen 173 x 106.5 cm

Sacrifice, 2008, oil on linen, 42 x 68 inches

“The Sacrifice of the Lamb is a legend which is recorded both in the Quran and the Bible. Abraham was told by God in a vision to sacrifice his only son as proof of his unquestioning devotion. This event is symbolically repeated during the most important Muslim holiday where lambs are sacrificed as part of religious celebrations and feasts. Kahraman illustrates this fable from a woman’s perspective, controversially appropriating the sacred masculine theme to assert feminist equality. In these paintings the sacrificed lambs might also be understood in relation to the practice of ‘honour’ killings, ” More at  Saatchi Gallery.

Forest of Dragonflies,  from the Artist’s “Artwork” Blog

Migrant 1, 2009, oil on panel,  70 x 45 inches

“The Migrant series illuminates the lives of people who personify the Iraqi Diaspora, their experiences in their homeland and their struggles and discoveries in countries where they have begun new lives.” The large panels will be reproduced as poker size printed cards for the artist’s Al Malwiya hanging installation

Hanging Sheet, Marionettes Series, 2009,  oil on linen, 48 x 68inches

Folding Large Sheet, Marionettes series, 2009, oil on linen, 132 x 218 cm

Blowing Dragonflies, 2006, sumi ink on paper, 60 x 76 cm

Representing freedom, dragonflies being created by a bare-chested woman in a hijab


Artist Statement

Born in a land that is ironically the cradle of civilization and presently the ultimate embodiment of human degradation, Iraq, I have of necessity inherited a host of issues that find expression in my work. Female oppression, honor killings and war continue to claim my attention. Filled with desire, I paint for redemption and salvation, hoping one day humanity will witness a profound change. Technically I work with oils on unprimed linen canvas that I prepare myself insuring the quality and durability in each step from mounting to finish. Using distinct two-dimensional tones of vibrant color covered with detailed designs my figures, mainly female, appear as transformed beings with prominent timeworn eyes dwelling in an ambiguous existence of despair The semi realistically rendered figures with elongated necks represent an archetypical image of the swan. Graceful and elegant, they move through the landscapes of horror facing the calamities of male dominance. Where suffering is great, so is the need for transcendence.

About the Artist

Using Sumi ink on brown paper, Hayv’s wide stylistic references range from Japanese and Arabic calligraphy to art nouveau, Persian miniature and Greek iconography. Her impeccable illustrative renderings create stunning but also unsettling, minutely detailed images which prevent us from looking away from tragedies such as rape and honour killings, forcing us to reflect on things that we would otherwise refuse to see. Of late, Kahraman has moved on to work in a larger scale and on canvas, painting flat patterned areas contrasted with expressionless faces, highly rendered in Renaissance inspired techniques. The artist has turned her attention to more mundane forms of oppression in a series of works focused on the ways women are percieved in society

This is my signature. It’s a stamp of Arabic letters that say “Asfaar Hayf” meaning the travels of Hayv.


Hayv Kahraman’s Website

Hayv Kahraman’s Blog

Hayv Kahraman at Frey Norris Gallery


Thanks to Iconoclassic for finding this Artist.

Posted by Carmelita Caruana

5 responses to “Hayv Kahraman”

  1. Manuel Olmo says:

    Much sadness is shown through her expressionless faces, the work communicates beautifully and effortlessly. This reminds me of Lethe Bashar’s poem called “Vulturous Men”. Loved the dragonfly symbolism, very strong.
    Great work guys!

  2. Chris Rusak says:

    Insanely beautiful. I lost it at “Migrant 1.” What a find.

  3. Basel Al-Aswad says:

    loved the art and the artists statement and message, great find Camelita…..Basel ( Chris’ dad )

  4. Thanks, I too find these insanely – and tragically – beautiful.

  5. KC says:

    Gorgeous colors and images, not easy to pin down stylistically; and the stories they narrate are poignant and thought provoking.

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