Dia Azzawi

Regarded as one of Iraq’s greatest artists, Dia al-Azzawi (b. 1939, Baghdad) started his artistic career in 1964, after graduating from the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad and completing a degree in archaeology from Baghdad University in 1962. In 1969, al-Azzawi (along with Rafa Nasiri, Mohammad Muhriddin, Ismail Fattah, Hachem al-Samarchi and Saleh al-Jumaie) formed the New Vision group (al-Ru’yya al-Jadidah), uniting fellow artists ideologically and culturally as opposed to stylistically. Through his involvement with the New Vision group, the artist found inspiration in contemporary subjects and issues, particularly the plight of Palestinians. He was also briefly a member of Shakir Hassan Al Said’s One Dimension group (Jama’t al-Bu’d al-Wahid). From 1968–76, al-Azzawi was the director of the Iraqi Antiquities Department in Baghdad. He has lived in London since 1976, where he served as art advisor to the city’s Iraqi Cultural Centre, from 1977–80. The artist's move to London led him to rediscover book art (dafater), an art form that he has encouraged other artists from Iraq and the region to explore. As well as his celebrated painting practice, al-Azzawi also works in sculpture, tapestry and printmaking.