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Dalloul Art Foundation

FARAJ ABBO, Iraq (1921 - 1984)


Faraj Abbo (Al Numan) was born in 1921 in Mosul, Iraq. Abbo’s artistic talents were revealed at an early age, expressed in theatre design, directing, literature, and fine arts. In fact, he was...

Written by WAFA ROZ

Faraj Abbo (Al Numan) was born in 1921 in Mosul, Iraq. Abbo’s artistic talents were revealed at an early age, expressed in theatre design, directing, literature, and fine arts.

In fact, he was commissioned to execute artwork for local churches in Mosul at the age of thirteen; examples of this painting can be seen today at the Mar Eshai Church.

Abbo’s career as an artist grew through education in both the East and the West, which would later be reflected in his signature style. In 1950, he acquired a bachelor’s degree at the College of Fine Arts in Cairo, later relocating to Rome, where he completed his postgraduate studies with honors at the Academy of Fine Arts in 1954. Abbo, who worked as a teacher at high schools such as Al Hilah and Baquba until 1945, was active in many different arts groups in Iraq throughout the 1940s and 1950s. In 1941, he joined the Friends of Art, and in 1944 the Art Friends Society; he would go on to join the Baghdad Contemporary Art Group in 1954 and co-found the Iraqi Artists Committee in 1956.

During the 1940s and 1950s, the artist was highly influenced by contemporary painters in the USSR. Through his experiences in Russia – to which the artist traveled on a motorbike – he was exposed to the state-sponsored arts program in the nascent Soviet Union. He found himself drawn to the socialist realism practiced by Russian painters, manifesting this inspiration in paintings that valorize the popular culture and daily social life of Iraq. The artist’s style witnessed a remarkable shift in the early 1970s when he began to take an interest in more abstract stylistic choices in compositions evocative of painters such as Mondrian and Kandinsky. His work did not merely draw inspiration from these Western masters; however; instead, it helped to give form to a kind of pan-Arab artistic practice known as Hurufiyya. Less of a defined movement than a series of shared aesthetic principles, Hurufiyya refers to the use of Arabic calligraphy in modern art, frequently in conjunction with – or as part of – abstract compositions. Along with his contemporaries in the Baghdad Art Group, Abbo advocated for modern art that looked toward the future and embraced internationalism while maintaining and reflecting upon ties to Iraqi cultural heritage. 

In addition to his active participation in the art circles of Baghdad, Faraj Abbo was a significant contributor to arts education in Iraq: he taught drawing at the Institute of Fine Arts as well as at the Architectural Department of the College of Engineering in Baghdad. Furthermore, he played a major role in establishing the curriculum for the Academy of Fine Arts at Baghdad University, where he was appointed the head of the plastic art department as well as Deputy Dean for many terms. 

Faraj Abbo passed away in 1984, leaving behind a substantial collection of artworks and a history of participation in more than 60 exhibitions. 


Selected Solo Exhibitions


Retrospective Exhibition works of Faraj Abbo Al Numan , Wakif Art Center, Doha,  Qatar


An Honoring event patronized by the Ministry of Culture and Communication (Department of Contemporary Art), Baghdad Gallery for Contemporary Art, Baghdad, Iraq


Fifth Solo Exhibition – Faraj Abbo, Gulbenkian Hall, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Baghdad, Iraq


Baghdad, Iraq


Baghdad, Iraq


Cairo, Egypt


Mosul, Iraq

Selected Group Exhibitions


Features of Self-Esteem: Portraits and Landscape Paintings, Jordanian National Museum of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan


Modern Iraqi Art: A Collection , Meem Gallery, Dubai


Exhibition of pioneers of Iraqi Art 2010, Qatar Fine Arts Society, Doha, Qatar


Bissan Gallery, Doha, Qatar


Aya Gallery, London, UK


معرض بغداد للرسم و النحت,نادي المنصور,Baghdad


Ibn Sena joint Exhibition , Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad, Iraq
-He participated in Baghdad first Biennale 
-His artworks exist in Baghdad University, Iraqi Ministries, Baghdad Airport & Museums. 


By the artist:

Kāmil ʻĀdil, and ʻAbbū Faraj. Faraj ʻAbbū. Baghdād: al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻIrāqīyah, Wizārat al-Thaqāfah wa-al-Iʻlām, Dāʼirat al-Funūn al-Tashkīlīyah, 1982.
ʻAbū Faraj. ʻIlm ʻanāṣir Al-Fann. Mīlānū: Dār Dalfīn, 1982.

Public collections

Baghdad University, Iraq
Iraqi ministries, Iraq
Baghdad Airport, Iraq
Barjeel Art Foundation, U.A.E.
Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Lebanon
Ibrahimi collection, Amman

Cultural Continuity in Modern Iraqi Painting between 1950- 1980
Shakiba Sharifian/Mehdi Mohammadzade/Silvia Naef/ Mostafa Mehraeen
Bagh-e Nazar, English, 2016

Vol.14/No.47/May 2017

Wings and roots ; an adventure in art, literature and life
Shawkat Al-Rubaie
AuthorHouse UK Ltd., English, 2014

Excerpt p.28, 124, 136

The grass roots of Iraqi Art
Jabra I. Jabra, English, 1986


المشاهد واللقطات المصورة بالأسود والأبيض في سياق الفيلم الملون ، مجلة القادسية في الآداب والعلوم التربوية
فراس عبد الجليل الشاروط, Arabic, 2009


جمالية عناصرالشكل في أعمال الفنان فرج عبو
حنين إحسان حسن كريدي, Arabic, 2017
سحر التصوير
عبد الباسط سلمان, Arabic, 2004


(علم عناصر الفن (الجزء الأول
Abbo Faraj
Artist website, Arabic, 1982

Dolphin Publishers, Milano - Italy

(علم عناصر الفن (الجزء الثاني
Abbo Faraj
Artist website, Arabic, 1982

Dolphin Publishers, Milano - Italy

معرض بغداد للرسم و النحت
Artist Website, Arabic, 1957

نادي المنصور، Baghdad

Fifth Solo Exhibition – Faraj Abbo, Gulbenkian Hall
Artist Website
Arabic, 1971

National Museum of Contemporary Art, Baghdad, Iraq

An Honoring event patronized by the Ministry of Culture and Communication (Department of Contemporary Art)
Artist Website, Arabic, 1983

Baghdad Gallery for Contemporary Art, Baghdad, Iraq

Pioneers of Iraqi Art
Qatar Fine Arts Society
Artist Website, Arabic, 2010
الجوانب الإنسانية في أعمال الفنان فرج عبو
علي فوزي
الشرق, Arabic, 2004

From (artist website)

العثورعلى لوحة مفقودة للفنان فرج عبو من أصل 7 ألاف سرقت عام 2003
Iraq Press Agency العراق وكالة ال, Arabic, 2018
وزارة الثقافة تستعيد لوحة نادرة للفنان العراقي فرج عبو, Arabic, 2014
كاظم شمهود: فرج عبو من اقطاب الفن العراقي المعاصر
د. كاظم شمهود, Arabic, 2016
المفتش العام لوزارة الثقافة يتسلم لوحة تشكيلية مفقودة للفنان الرائد فرج عبو
Ministry of Culture of Iraq, Arabic, 2014
لقاء مع الفنّان فرج عبو
Al-Aqlam_Year 1 No 10, Arabic, 1965
ذكرى وفاة الفنان فرج عبو النعمان.. ابنته شذى كلمتنا
فتيان اكرم الفتيان
الفنون الجميلة, Arabic, 2018
English, 2013

مواطن يسلم وزارة الثقافة العراقية لوحة مفقودة للفنان الرائد فرج عبو, Arabic, 2014
نقوش تتواءم مع الذات
فنون إسلامية, Arabic, 2016
هذا هو هو الفنان فرج عبو
مريم نجمه, Arabic, 2015
رﺳﺎﻣﻮن ﻋﺮاﻗﻴﻮن ﻓﻲ ﻣﻌﺮض ﻟﻨﺪﻧﻲ
ﻣﻮدي ﺑﻴﻄﺎر
Arabic, 2002
مشهد منوع بلوحات كبار التشكيليين العرب و القطريين
Arrayah, Arabic, 2003

Artist Website

افتتاح معرض فن صيف قطر
محمد الربيع محمد صالح
الوطن, Arabic, 2003

Artist Website

بانوراما تشكيلية متميزة تجمع الرولد مع المدارس الحداثية و ما بعدها
اكرم اليوسف
الشرق, Arabic, 2003

Artist Website

Announcement of the exhibition, Peninsula
The Peninsula, English, 2009
In the glorious world of Iraqi artist
Ailyn Agonia
Qatar Tribune, English, 2009

Artist Website

عائلة الفنان العراقي الاحل فرج عبو تعرض أعماله في مركز واقف للفنون
Arabic, 2009

Artist Website

معرض استعادي للراحل فرج عبو أحد أعلام جماعة بغداد للفن الحديث
محمد هديب
الوطن, Arabic, 2009

From Artist Website

معرض تشكيلي يستعـيد ذكرى العـراقي فـرج عبو
مأمون عياش
Arabic, 2009
Modern Iraqi Art / A Collection
Meem Gallery, English, 2013

13 May - 27 June 2013

الأميرة لع ميري تفتتح معرض لرواد الفن التشكيلي العربي
عمان – سيدتي. نت, Arabic, 2017