Iraqi Portraits


19 January – 2 March 2007


Iraqi Portraits

paintings by

Athir Shayota

Shayota’s portaits of Iraqis living in America are painted without narrative intention.  Instead, psychological spaces, placement of figures, and paint application tell the story. The collection begins in  the early eighties when Shayota started painting the daily life of the Detroit Chaldean community to which he immigrated in 1980. With the first and second Gulf War, Shayota’s work takes on a different mood. Although portrayed with
compassion, those depicted reflect the intensifying violent world in which they live. While Shayota creates referential paintings that utilize Western Modernist modes of aesthetic representation, like other contemporary Iraqi artists, his work contains direct references to the historical heritage of Iraq. With the continuation of the artistic heritage of his people, Shayota preserves, reiterates and intensifies the long and rich history of Iraqi visual culture and projects an unwavering sense of resilience.

Athir Shayota‘s paintings have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in museums, universities and galleries throughout the United States.  Shayota was born in 1968 in northern Iraq. He received his Masters of Fine Arts from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri in 1992 and now resides in New York City.