Dalloul Art Foundation
MUHAMMAD MUHRADDIN MUHAMMAD MUHRADDIN

MUHAMMAD MUHRADDIN, Iraq (1938 - 2015)

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Bio

Written by Mysa Kafil-Hussain

Considered a trailblazer in Iraqi art during the 1960s and 1970s, Muhammad Muhraddin and his contemporaries sought to rebel against the artistic trends of previous decades and push creative boundaries. Born in 1938 in Basra, Muhraddin developed a love for painting during his childhood, and his one of his teachers, who encouraged him to study art, noticed his talent.[1] In 1956 Muhraddin left Basra for Baghdad and enrolled into the Institute of Fine Arts, graduating in 1959.

Muhraddin then received a scholarship to study in Poland, completing a Masters degree at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw,[2] and although he reportedly struggled with some of the new concepts he encountered, Warsaw had a great impact on his artistic style. It was there that he was exposed to and inspired by abstract movements led by experimental Polish artists,[3] as well as radical Eastern European street art, constructivism, and the art of political posters. Returning to Iraq in the mid-1960s, Muhraddin began teaching at the Institute of Fine Art whilst also producing his own work. He returned to an Iraq rife with rebellion, still reeling from various military coups and the rise of Arab nationalism, all of which influenced cultural production. Muhraddin’s work, along with many others, began to follow a distinct theme: protest. He had his first solo exhibition in Baghdad in 1966, cementing his status as a serious, promising artist, but then in 1967, war broke out between the Arab nations and Israel, resulting in a disheartening defeat. However, this only served to push creatives further into the cause, giving them a new challenge with artists wondering how artistic activism could become a movement. In 1969, The New Vision group was founded by Muhraddin, Dia al-Azzawi, Ismail Fattah, Saleh al-Jumaie, Rafa Nasiri and Hashem Samarchi, seeking to fuse art and politics to create a revolutionary creative movement, focusing on experimental graphic art and artistic and innovative posters.

“The artist is a fighter who refuses to put his weapon down as he speaks in the name of the world, and in the name of the human…..the unity of artistic production throughout history places the artist at the center of the world and at the focal point of the revolution” [4] Manifesto: Towards a New Vision, 1969

Inspired, Muhraddin produced a great deal of work and participated in many exhibitions in the early-mid 1970s, and began to tackle political topics in his work in a way that many artists shied away from.[5] Deep into his artistic rebellion, Muhraddin was using indecipherable abstract symbols and harsh graphic techniques, and began tackling politicised topics such as Palestine and black liberation. He held a large solo exhibition in Baghdad entitled ‘Strange is this World’ in 1978,[6] in which he dealt with powerful themes such as poverty, anxiety and destruction, captivating audiences with what critics labelled “critical realism”.[7]

In the 1980s, Muhraddin continued exploring the same themes, switching between phases of intense colour and subtle minimalism using a range of mixed media. Exhibiting regularly in solo and group shows, Muhraddin was by now an established artist, but continued to stimulate audiences with innovative compositions. The late 1980s and early 1990s were full of tension due to war and economic sanctions on Iraq, a period in which he painted his 1990 untitled artwork in the DAF Collection, awash with rhythmic, enigmatic symbols and shapes, trying to send a desperate message to the viewer. He continued to challenge the political status quo in the new millennium, with an exhibition entitled ‘Globalisation Trap’ in both Amman and Baghdad in 2001, where audiences were moved by the underlying tones of rejection, rebellion and anger.[8]

In 2006, Muhraddin, like many other Iraqis, left Iraq for Jordan due to ongoing instability following the US invasion and the deterioration of the local cultural scene. Although he settled well in Amman, and especially loved the bustling downtown area of the city, Baghdad was never far from his mind, remarking that the reason he chose Amman over other cities was because “Jordan is the closest to Iraq”.[9] He continued to be very active, painting many canvases every year, and it is in this period that he painted three artworks in the DAF Collection, all untitled and from 2009, 2010-11, and 2014 respectively. Incredibly expressive, they each have their own unique qualities – one exudes emotion and nostalgia (2009), the other evokes a cold solitude (2010-11), whilst the latest artwork (2014) is intensely political, with ‘al-qatla’ (the killing) written in Arabic above the word ‘Blair’ (the British Prime Minister at the time of Iraq’s invasion). Muhraddin sadly passed away in 2015 at the age of 77, but he did one final exhibition in Amman the year before he died. Entitled ‘Dirty War’,[10] the exhibition was Muhraddin’s final public artistic statement against war and colonialism, unconsciously ensuring that his lasting legacy was to be synonymous with expressive sociopolitical and artistic defiance.

[1] "وفاة الفنان التشكيلي العراقي محمد محر الدين". In Al-sharq.com, 2015: www.al-sharq.com/article/25/04/2015/وفاة-الفنان-التشكيلي-العراقي-محمد-مهر-الدينv 

[2] Tariq Hamdan, 2015. "محمد مهر الدين..رسائل عراقية أخيرة". In Alaraby.co.uk: www.alaraby.co.uk/culture/2015/4/25/محمد-مهر-الدين-رسائل-عراقية-أخيرة

[3] Farouq Yousif, 2015. "محمد مهر الدين فنان من العراق رسم خرائط اختلافه". In Alarab.co.uk: www.alarab.co.uk/محمد-مهر-الدين-فنان-من-العراق-رسم-خرائط-اختلافه    

[4] Dia al-Azzawi, Ismail Fattah, Salih al-Jumaie, Muhammed Muhraddin, Rafa al-Nasiri, Hashem Samarji, 1969. “Manifesto: Towards a New Vision”, In Modern Art in the Arab World -  Primary Documents, 2018: Pages 306-309

[5] Yousif, 2015

[6] "محمد مهر الدين..فنان التحولات". In Almadasupplements.com, 2014: http://www.almadasupplements.com/news.php?action=view&id=9533#sthash.mEjKpBLo.dpbs

[7] Muhammed Muhraddin Artist Website – “Gallery 3”: http://www.muhraddin.com/gallery3.htm

[8] Hassan Abdul Hameed, 2001.”Artist of Revolting Moments”, In Iraq Daily Newspaper No. 9666, October 27 2001

[9] Hamdan, 2015.

[10] Yousif, 2015.

Sources            

Abdul Hameed, Hassan. “Artist of Revolting Moments”. Iraq Daily Newspaper, No. 9666, October 27 2001

Al-Azzawi, Dia; Fattah, Ismail; al-Jumaie, Saleh; Muhraddin, Muhammad; al-Nasiri, Rafa; Samarji, Hashem. “Manifesto: Towards a New Vision”. In Lenssen,Anneka; Rogers, Sarah; Shabout, Nada, Modern Art in the Arab World -  Primary Documents. North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2018: Pages 306-309

Hamdan, Tariq. “محمد مهر الدين.. رسائل عراقيّة أخيرة”. Alaraby.co.uk. April 25, 2015. Accessed May 2020. www.alaraby.co.uk/culture/2015/4/25/محمد-مهر-الدين-رسائل-عراقية-أخيرة

Kamel, Adil. “Notes on some Characteristics of Iraqi Art”. UR Magazine, Special Issue. Iraqi Cultural Centre, 1981: Page 115

Yousif, Farouq. “محمد مهر الدين فنان من العراق رسم خرائط اختلافه”. July 26, 2015. Accessed May 2020. www.alarab.co.uk/محمد-مهر-الدين-فنان-من-العراق-رسم-خرائط-اختلافه

Contemporary Arab Artists: Part One, Iraqi Cultural Centre, London, 8 November – 7 December 1978 (exhibition catalogue). 1978. “Modern Art Iraq Archive”, Iraqart.org. Accessed April 2020.

https://artiraq.org/maia/items/show/54

M. Moheradin: Al-Riwaq Gallery, Baghdad, 18 September 1980 (exhibition catalogue)

محمد مهر الدين..فنان التحولات"”. Almadasupplements.com. January 29, 2014. Accessed May 2020. http://www.almadasupplements.com/news.php?action=view&id=9533#sthash.mEjKpBLo.dpbs

"وفاة الفنان التشكيلي العراقي محمد محر الدين". Al-sharq.com, April 25, 2015. Accessed May 2020. www.al-sharq.com/article/25/04/2015/وفاة-الفنان-التشكيلي-العراقي-محمد-مهر-الدين

Muhammed Muhraddin Artist Website, Accessed May 2020: http://www.muhraddin.com/gallery3.htm

Ibrahimi Collection: “Mohammed Muhradin”. Ibrahimcollection.com. Accessed May 2020. http://ibrahimicollection.com/node/92

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CV

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2014

Dirty War, Orfali Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan

2008

Sultan Gallery, Kuwait

2006

Muhraddin, Dar al-Anda, Amman, Jordan

2004

Athar Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq

2003

French Cultural Center, Baghdad, Iraq

2001

Globalisation Trap, Hewar Art Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq; Amman, Jordan
Painting Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq; Amman, Jordan

1999

French Cultural Center, Baghdad, Iraq

1998

Muhraddin: Painting Exhibition, Athar Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq; Amman, Jordan

1997

Painting Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq

1995

Painting Exhibition, Baghdad Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq; Amman, Jordan

1994

Aba’ad Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan

1992

Painting Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq

1989

Orfali Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq

1985

Painting Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq

1983

Painting and Drawing Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq

1981

Painting Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq

1980

M. Moheradin: Fourth One-Man Show, Al-Riwaq Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq

1978

Painting Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq

1967

Graphic Art Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq

1966

First One-Man Show, Academy of Fine Arts, Baghdad, Iraq

Selected Group Exhibitions

2019

Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991-2011, MoMA PS1, New York, USA

2014

A Tribute to Rafa Nasiri, Nabad Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan

2005

Joint exhibition with Shaddad Abdulkhahar, Athar Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq
Dialogue of Generations (Joint exhibition with Delair Shaker), Orfali Gallery, Amman, Jordan

2002

Intact, Iraqi Art, Iraqi Spirit, Aya Gallery, London, UK

2000

Journey through the Contemporary Arts of the Arab World: Mesopotamia/Iraq, Darat al Funoon, Amman, Jordan

1995

Joint exhibition with Fahmi Al-Qaysi, Location unknown

1994

Four Iraqi Artists (Group exhibition with Rafa al-Nasiri, Ali Talib & Dia Azzawi), Alif Gallery, Washington DC, USA

1993

Figures de la Peinture Irakienne Contemporaine: Azzaoui & Muhraddine & Nasiri & Talib, L’Espace Al Wacetey, Casablanca, Morocco
Sixth Asian Art Biennale, Bangladesh

1992

Three Iraqi Artists (Group exhibition with Ismail Fattah and Lisa Fattah), Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation, Amman, Jordan
Rafaa Ennasiri – Ridha Bettaieb – Mohamad Mahruddine, Galerie des Arts, Tunis, Tunisia

1990

Seven Iraqi Artists (Group exhibition with Shakir Hassan al Said, Salem al-Dabbagh, Saadi al-Kaabi, Ali Talib and Rafa al-Nasiri, Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation, Amman, Jordan

1988

Art for Humanity - Baghdad International Festival of Art, Saddam Arts Centre, Baghdad, Iraq

1986

First International Euro-Asian Arts Biennial, Ankara, Turkey

1984

First Cairo International Biennale, Cairo, Egypt

1982

Second International Poster Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq
Iraqi Contemporary Art, Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan

1981

Joint exhibition with Ala Bashir, Al-Riwaq Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq

1979

An Exhibit of Contemporary Iraqi Paintings, USA
Exhibition of Iraqi Posters, National Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad

1978

Contemporary Iraqi Art, Iraqi Cultural Centre, London, United Kingdom
PLO Exhibition of Art for the Sake of Palestine, Beirut, Lebanon

1977

Contemporary Iraqi Art, Tunis, Tunisia

1976

World League of Visual Arts, Baghdad, Iraq
Eighth Cagne-sur-Mer International Festival, Cagne-sur-Mer, France
Second Arab Biennale, Rabat, Morocco

1975

The Third Triennale – India, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, India

1974

First Arab Biennale, Baghdad, Iraq

1972

Al-Wasiti Festival, Baghdad, Iraq

1971

Exhibition of Plastic Arts: Al-Marbad Poetry Festival, Basra, Iraq
Iraqi Art Exhibition, Kuwait

1970

The Iraqi Poster Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq

1968

The Battle Exhibition, National Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad, Iraq

1965

Iraqi Artists Society – Eighth Annual Exhibition, National Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad, Iraq

1959

Iraqi Artists Society Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq

Publications

الأعمال الفنية من 1956-2010, Muhammad Muhraddin. مركز الدستور الفني, 2011

اراء حول تجربة الفنان محمد مهر الدين التشكيلية 1967-2010, Muhammad Muhraddin. Arabic Line P.P. /مطبعة الخط العربي, 2011

Awards and Honors

1998

Innovation Award, Iraqi Ministry of Culture, Baghdad, Iraq

1993

Honorary Prize, Sixth Asian Art Biennale, Bangladesh

1988

First Prize, Art for Humanity - Baghdad International Festival of Art, Saddam Arts Centre,Baghdad, Iraq

1986

2nd Prize – Best Poster, First International Euro-Asian Arts Biennial, Ankara, Turkey

1982

Appreciation Award, Second International Poster Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq

Affiliations & Memberships

1969

Co-founding Member, New Vision Group

Collections

Azzawi Collection, London, United Kingdom
British Museum, London, United Kingdom
Dijla Art Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq / Amman, Jordan (Public Collection)
Ibrahimi Collection, Amman, Jordan
Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan
Ramzi & Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation (DAF), Beirut, Lebanon
Orfali Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan

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Exhibitions

MUHAMMAD MUHRADDIN Artwork