Hanaa Malallah

Prominent Iraqi mixed-media artist, Hanaa Malallah cultivated her artistic practice growing up in an environment of conflict, sanctions, war and occupation.

Remaining in Iraq despite periods of violence, lawlessness and travel restrictions in the 1980s and 1990s, Malallah investigates the concept of homeland, spirituality and ruin in her art practice. Malallah spearheaded the ‘ruins technique’ among Iraqi artists beginning in the 1970s: using damaged materials to depict ruin. As art materials became sparse due to sanctions in the 1990s, artists turned even more to items found in their surroundings: burnt paper, torn cloth, barbed wire, splintered wood and bullets among them.

Concern over the loss of Iraq’s heritage, particularly the destruction of its libraries and the looting of the Baghdad National Museum following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, is one prominent theme in her work, which often carries the residual scent of smoke. “My works appear as in ‘ruins’ the cycle of destruction visited upon my city Baghdad, its desecration and humiliation,” Malallah has said. She also looks at the relationship between religion, spirituality and art using the symbol of the Hoopoe bird, mentioned in the Quran.

Malallah has taken part in countless group and solo exhibitions in Iraq, Europe, the MiddleEast and the United States.