Dalloul Art Foundation

Dalloul Art Foundation

HIMAT MOHAMMAD ALI HIMAT MOHAMMAD ALI

HIMAT MOHAMMAD ALI, Iraq (1960)

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Bio

Written by Mysa Kafil-Hussain

When I paint, I follow my dreams through my brushstrokes. As I paint, my hand also dreams as I do, it does so nervously and as it moves my dreams are cleared and refined. Painting does not dwell in my mind alone, painting is the act of my body.[1] Himat Mohammed Ali, 2010

Born in Kirkuk in 1960, Himat Mohammed Ali was surrounded by art books, poetry and other literature from a young age, as his brother was an art student. Himat first explored the world of poetry as a teen, but then started painting and embraced it entirely, at which point he decided to get in touch with an artist he very much admired, Shakir Hassan Al Said.[2] Al Said was extremely encouraging, seeing great promise in the young artist and also spent time introducing him to the works of international artists, Sufi poetry and had lengthy conversations about spirituality.[3]

Himat never had any formal art training and never went to any of the art institutions that budding local artists attended in Baghdad. Instead, he taught himself and learnt from observing others, and in 1982 had his first solo exhibition in Kirkuk, followed by more in Baghdad and participated in group shows and festivals throughout the 1980s. With his career progressing well, Himat had the opportunity to exhibit his work in Japan in 1990. Planning to stay for just two months, the Gulf War suddenly broke out in Iraq, forcing him to stay for more than half a year. During this time he struggled a great deal with the lack of access to his usual materials, and so he bought black Japanese inks, Japanese paper (which has now become a staple of his), and began painting with ink to create completely black and white works – a rare colourless period for the artist.[4] After a short period in Jordan, Himat settled in Paris in 1991, which has been his base ever since.

Himat found studio space and accommodation in Paris’ ‘La Ruche’, a renowned artist residence in the Montparnasse district. The vibrant historical home of numerous important artists, including Amedeo Modigliani and Diego Rivera, Himat felt truly inspired by his new surroundings. Here, Himat embraced nature, and when he would paint, he would place his finished canvases on the trees of La Ruche’s garden where they would blend in beautifully with their surroundings.[5]

Although he embraced life in Paris, he was always searching for roots. Living in exile since 1990, he longed for home but also conceded that he could still develop a sense of belonging elsewhere. Himat witnessed the US invasion of Iraq from afar, watching from Paris as his country went through unimaginable suffering, followed by years of instability and sectarian conflict. He had seen political conflict divide people before, with tension and hatred between Arabs and Kurds in his home city still in his recent memory. [6] In 2004, Himat learned of the death of Shakir Hassan Al Said, someone who he still regarded as his mentor. Although at this point he had not been back to Iraq for 14 years, Himat kept in touch with him regularly and claims their telephone conversations guided his research and work.[7] Reeling with sadness, Himat eventually turned his grief into a series of works inspired by the late artist.

The mid-2000s were a very busy period for Himat, as is evident in the selection of his works in the DAF Collection. Both ‘White Landscape’ (2004-2008) and an untitled painting from 2008 are typical of Himat’s expressive, abstract style, often on large canvases with vibrant colours. Sometimes almost resembling intricate Persian or Turkish carpets, the details appear rooted in both decorative ornamentation and the natural environment. 2010’s ‘Forest of Love’, again a large composition, combines the feeling of rich, elaborate textiles with what appears to be letters and symbols at the top, dancing together harmoniously in a pool of colour. Some of his most well-known artworks, ‘Letters to Ishtar’ (2000-2010), are also in the DAF Collection. A series of works in the form of hard-hitting artist books, they were collaborations with poets such as Adonis, Mohammed Bennis, Qassim Haddad and Saadi Yousef in which they were commissioned to create poetry based on Ishtar, the ancient Mesopotamian goddess of war and love. Creating visual art pieces from their words, here Himat mourns the destruction of Iraq’s cultural heritage during and after the 2003 war, especially the burning and looting of libraries and museums.

Still working from Paris, his small studio is where he spends most of his days. Constantly constructing and deconstructing, mixing his own colours and preparing his own canvases, Himat is an artist very much absorbed by his work. And whilst he often thinks of home – Iraq – and his Kurdish identity, he is equally as inspired by the cherry blossoms of Japan and the streets of Paris, ensuring that his artworks remain rich with a sensitive universal insight, creating a captivating and unique artistic language. 

[1] Himat Mohammed Ali, 2010. “Another Perspective”, via artist website: https://www.himatmali.com/

[2] Helene Poirier, n.d. “Dots Signs and Lights”, via artist website: https://www.himatmali.com/critics-e-1

[3] Ibid

[4] Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, 2004. “Kurdish Painter Finds Truth”, In Daily Star Newspaper, via artist website: https://www.himatmali.com/critics-e-2

[5] “Himat Ali..an Artist who speaks through Colours”, In Aawsat.com, 2017: https://english.aawsat.com//home/article/1034421/himat-ali…-artist-who-speaks-through-colors

[6] Poirier, n.d.

[7] Poirier, n.d.

Sources

Mohammed Ali, Himat. “Another Perspective” (artist statement), via artist website. October 2010. Accessed April 2020. https://www.himatmali.com/

Poirier, Helene. “Dots Signs and Lights”, via artist website. N.d. Accessed April 2020.  https://www.himatmali.com/critics-e-1

Wilson-Goldie, Kaelen. “Kurdish Painter Finds Truth”, In Daily Star Newspaper, via artist website. June 10, 2004. Accessed April 2020. https://www.himatmali.com/critics-e-2

 “Himat Ali..an Artist who speaks through Colours”. Aawsat.com. September 26, 2017. Accessed April 2020. https://english.aawsat.com//home/article/1034421/himat-ali…-artist-who-speaks-through-colors

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CV

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2019

Le Silence de l’Eau / The Silence of Water, Gallery La Ruche, Paris, France

2017

Pas de Paroles, Juste Lumiere et Couleur / No Words, Just Light and Colour, Gallery La Ruche, Paris, France

2015

Japanese Flowers in Kirkuk, Nabad Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan

2013

Letters to Ishtar, Al Riwaq Art Space, Manama, Bahrain

2011

Le Mans, France

2010

In the Forest of Love, Nabad Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan; Dar al Funoon, Kuwait

2008

Sharif Gallery, Tunis, Tunisia
Al Riwaq Art Space, Manama, Bahrain

2007

Gotaro Tsunezumi: Flowers from the Sky, Lines Contemporary Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan

2005

A Tribute to Shakir Hassan Al Said, Al Riwaq Art Space, Manama, Bahrain; Agial Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon; 4 Walls, Amman, Jordan; Galerie Artemisia, Tunis, Tunisia

2004

Agial Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon

2003

Al-Barzakh (Art book collaboration with Adonis), 4Walls Gallery, Amman, Jordan

2002

Kinokunya Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Art book collaboration with Gotaro Tsunezumi, Tokyo, Japan
Ezerman Gallery, Dokkum, The Netherlands

2001

4 Walls Gallery, Amman, Jordan
Sharjah Museum, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

2000

Centre d’Art et de Littérature L’Echelle, France

1999

Kinokunya Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Al Riwaq Art Space, Manama, Bahrain
Art book collaboration with André Velter, La Halle Saint-Pierre, Paris, France

1998

Art book collaboration with André Velter, Abbasid Palace, Baghdad, Iraq
Salle des Expositions, UNESCO, Paris, France

1997

Librairie Vendredi, Paris, France

1996

Himat Mohammad Ali: Paintings, Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan

1995

Mutsu Gallery, Chiba, Japan
Galerie Atagoyama, Tokyo, Japan
Galerie Via Fravia, Domat/Ems, Switzerland

1994

Galerie Shawar, Paris, France

1993

Gallery of the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France

1992

Atagoyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

1990

Al Riwaq Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq
Forms Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Shofu Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Darat al-Funun, Amman, Jordan

1988

Himat M. Ali, Tsubaki Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

1986

Al Rashid Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq

1983

Al Rashid Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq

1982

Land and Human, Al-Ta’meem Gallery of Contemporary Art, Kirkuk, Iraq

Selected Group Exhibitions

2019

Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991-2011, MoMA PS1, New York, USA
Winter Season, Nabad Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan
LINE, Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan

2018

Bagdad Mon Amour, Institut des Cultures d’Islam, Paris, France

2017

Enfolding and Unfolding: Geometric Abstraction in Motion (MA Curatorial Practice fellows exhibition with Ghassan Ghaib, Samia Halaby and her Kinetic Painting Group), School of Visual Arts, New York, USA
Première Exposition Collective, La Ruche Gallery, Paris, France
“Truth is black, write over it” - 30th Anniversary Inaugural Exhibition, Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan

2016

La Ruche Gallery, Paris, France
Rituals of Signs and Transitions (1975-1995), Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan

2014

Mutsu Gallery, Chiba, Japan

2013

Tajreed – A Selection of Abstract Art from 1908-1960, Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Gallery, Kuwait

2012

Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Paris, France

2011

Art in Iraq Today: Part III, Meem Gallery, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Galerie Helene Lamarque – American Pavilion, XV Shanghai Art Fair, China

2009

Modernism and Iraq, Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York, USA
Text, Texture and Textualisation: Reflections on the Jordan International Art Symposium, Foresight Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan

2008

Iraqi Artists in Exile, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, Texas, USA

2006

Festival International des Arts Plastiques de Mahres, Al-Mahres, Tunisia
Bonn Museum of Modern Art, Bonn, Germany

2005

Asilah Arts Festival, Asilah, Morocco

2004

Seventh Cairo International Biennale, Cairo, Egypt

2003

Iraqi Art Today: Looking Out, Looking In, DePaul University Art Gallery, Chicago, USA
The Khalid Shoman Collection, Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan
National Museum, Krakow, Poland

2002

From the Ocean to the Gulf and Beyond: Arab Contemporary Art, Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan
Grenzenlos: Kurdische Kunst Heute / Borderless: Kurdish Art Today, Wien Museum, Vienna, Austria

2000

Strokes of Genius: Contemporary Iraqi Art, Brunei Gallery – SOAS, University of London, London, UK
Journey Through the Contemporary Arts of the Arab World: Mesopotamia/Iraq, Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan

1999

Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan

1996

Artists of the Cité Internationale des Arts, Bedford Gallery, Longwood College, Farmville, Virginia, USA

1995

Atagoyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Galerie Karl Strobl, Vienna, Austria

1994

Gallery of the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France

1993

Three Iraqi Artists (Group exhibition with Salem Al Dabbagh & Kareem Risan), Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan
Kufa Gallery, London, UK
Galerie Philippe Gand, Paris, France
Château de Flers, France

1992

Galerie Philippe Gand, Paris, France

1991

Salle Léo Lagrange, Beaumont-sur-Oise, France

1990

The Japan International Art Exhibition, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan

1989

Entre le Tigre et l'Euphrate: Art Contemporain Irakien / Between the Tigris and the Euphrates: Contemporary Iraqi Art, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France
Seventh Al-Wasiti Festival, Baghdad, Iraq
The Miniature Exhibition, Al Rashid Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq

1988

Art for Humanity: The Second Baghdad International Festival of Art, Saddam Arts Centre (formerly the National Museum of Modern Art), Baghdad, Iraq

1987

First International Babel Festival, Babel, Iraq
Sixth Al-Wasiti Festival, Baghdad, Iraq

1986

The First Baghdad International Festival of Art, Saddam Arts Centre (formerly the National Museum of Modern Art), Baghdad, Iraq

1985

Fifth Al-Wasiti Festival, Baghdad, Iraq

1983

Contemporary Iraqi Art, National Museum of Modern Art (Gulbenkian), Baghdad, Iraq

1982

The First Youth Festival, Baghdad, Iraq

Publications

Himat, Bernard Noel & Farouk Yousif, Rencontres, 2003

Awards and Honors

1989

First Prize - Seventh Al-Wasiti Festival, Baghdad, Iraq

1987

Appreciation Award - Sixth Al-Wasiti Festival, Baghdad, Iraq

1985

Graphic Art Award - Fifth Al-Wasiti Festival, Baghdad, Iraq

1982

Appreciation Prize - The First Youth Festival, Baghdad, Iraq

Collections

Bibliothèque de la Francophone Multimédia, Limoges, France
Darat al Funun (The Khalid Shoman Foundation), Amman, Jordan
Ibrahimi Collection, Amman, Jordan
Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan
L’Insitut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France
Ministry of Culture, Tunis, Tunisia
National Library of France, Paris, France
National Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad, Iraq
Ramzi & Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon

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Exhibitions

HIMAT MOHAMMAD ALI Artwork