Saad Al Kaabi

Saadi Al Kaabi was born in 1937 in Iraq’s holy city of Najaf, Employing an expressive yet stylised approach, Saadi Al Kaabi’s paintings draw from the rich and diverse reservoir of Iraqi art and heritage. His art in the 1960s experimented with Cubism and Expressionism, as the simplified planes and strong outlines present in the two pieces exhibited demonstrate. Marrying aesthetic influences from Cubism with those from Sumerian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Islamic art, Al Kaabi’s work explores the nuances and contradictions of the human condition. Al Kaabi is a significant member of Iraq’s second generation of modernist artists. A graduate of Baghdad’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1960, the artist’s signature style emerged in the 1970s after two decades of involvement in the avant-garde modern art scene. Al Kaabi applies thick layers of paint in his works, using ginger earth tones to compose highly textured paintings. His practice forms part of a broader post-independence artistic approach in the Arab world concerned with fashioning a new national identity that involved looking to the past in search of cultural authenticity. Al Kaabi has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including the 1976 Venice Biennale. In the 1980s, he torched his personal archive of press clippings covering his career as a way of expunging the suggestion of his success to start anew.