Salman Abbas - Artist Bio

Captivating artwork by Salman Abbas from 1980

Captivating artwork by Salman Abbas (1980)

In a Few Words

Born In: Baghdad, Iraq (1945)

Background: Salman Abbas, born in 1945 in Baghdad, Iraq, is a prominent figure in contemporary art, renowned for his innovative techniques and deep connection to Iraqi cultural heritage. His leadership in art education and collaborations with international artists reflect his commitment to advancing the narrative of contemporary Iraqi art on a global scale, leaving a lasting legacy that inspires both artists and enthusiasts alike.

Style & Media: The artist style is marked by a dynamic fusion of innovation and tradition, seen through his experimentation with unconventional materials like collage and aluminium, as well as his commitment to incorporating elements of Iraqi cultural heritage. 

Themes: Abbas artwork delves into a rich tapestry of themes, ranging from architectural abstraction and heritage to identity, cultural memory, and the intricate interplay between space and perception.

In a Few More Words

Salam Abbas, born Salman Abbas Shalhoub Al-Dulaimi in 1945 in Baghdad, Iraq, emerged as a prominent figure in the realm of contemporary art. His trajectory is characterized by a blend of creative ingenuity and substantial contributions that have left a lasting imprint on the art landscape of Iraq and beyond. Embarking on his artistic journey in the early 1960s at the Institute of Higher Education, later recognized as the Academy of Fine Arts (AFA) at the University of Baghdad, Abbas laid the foundations for his artistic exploration. This pivotal period gave rise to the establishment of the 'Innovationists' in 1965, an avant-garde collective of artists challenging conventional styles through their experimentation with materials such as collage, aluminium, and mono-type printing.

After completing his studies at AFA, in 1968, Abbas embarked on an international journey, assuming the role of an art instructor at the Institute of Art Education in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. His commitment to education remained steadfast, leading him to later serve as a lecturer at the College of Fine Arts, University of Baghdad. Notably, he assumed the leadership of the painting department from 1976 to 1988, leaving a profound mark on both the institution and its students. Abbas' significant contributions were acknowledged with the prestigious Golden Sail Award in Kuwait in 1983, underscoring his influence on the regional art scene. His impact transcended accolades, with his notable works adorning prominent locations such as Baghdad International Airport and Basra Airport. Moreover, the National Museum of Modern Art in Baghdad hosts a dedicated wing showcasing his influential pieces. Engaging with international art associations like the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) International Association of Plastic Arts and the Union of Arab Plastic Artists, Abbas demonstrated his active participation in the global artistic community.

Salman Abbas Shalhoub Al-Dulaimi's artistic style is characterized by a dynamic fusion of innovation and tradition, which manifests through several distinct themes in his artwork. One prominent theme in his work is architectural abstraction. Through stylized depictions of structures such as domes, arches, and latticework windows, he blurs the line between representation and abstraction. This fascination with architectural forms reflects his deep-rooted appreciation for the geometry and ornamentation found in traditional Iraqi architecture. By reinterpreting these forms in a contemporary context, Abbas creates compositions that resonate with both historical significance and modern aesthetics. Another recurring theme in his art is his exploration of cultural heritage and identity. Through the use of earthy tonalities and repetitive patterning, he evokes a sense of connection to Iraqi heritage and cultural memory. These elements hint at a dialogue between past and present, inviting viewers to contemplate the enduring influence of tradition on contemporary society. Additionally, Salman Abbas artwork often exudes an ethereal quality, characterized by hazy backgrounds and ambiguous light sources. This atmospheric approach imbues his compositions with a sense of mystery and introspection, encouraging viewers to reflect on the elusive nature of space and perception. Furthermore, experimental techniques, such as collage and the use of unconventional materials like aluminium, showcase his innovative spirit. By pushing the limits of artistic expression, he challenges conventional boundaries and expands the possibilities of artistic representation.

Salman Abbas' artistic odyssey not only embodies a personal quest for creativity but also signifies a steadfast commitment to pushing the boundaries of traditional art. As a prominent figure in art education and through collaborations with fellow artists globally, alongside his affiliations with international art associations, he demonstrates an active engagement with the worldwide artistic community. The artist has firmly established himself as a visionary presence in contemporary Iraqi art, acting as a cultural bridge and catalyst for dialogue on a global scale. His artwork serves as a conduit for cultural exchange, fostering mutual understanding and discourse across borders. In essence, Abbas' art delves into the interplay between tradition and modernity, abstraction and representation. Through his dynamic synthesis of innovation and heritage, he invites viewers to delve into the multifaceted layers of significance woven into his compositions, prompting reflection on themes such as cultural legacy, identity, and the human condition.

Key Exhibitions

SOLO EXHIBITION
  • Solo Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq (1965)
  • Solo Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq (1966)
  • Solo Exhibitions, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (1970 - 1973)
  • Solo Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq (1992)
  • Solo Exhibition, Amman, Jordan (1994)
  • Solo Exhibition, Amman, Jordan (1999)
  • Solo Exhibition, Doha, Qatar (2000)
  • Solo Exhibition, Cairo, Egypt (2000)
  • Solo Exhibition, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (2001)
  • Solo Exhibition: Mental Horizons, Amman, Jordan (2019)
GROUP EXHIBITIONS
  • Exhibition: Collaboration with Jordanian artist Mahmoud Taha, Nabad Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan (1993)
  • Exhibition: Collaboration with Jordanian artist Alya Ammoura, Al-Orfali Gallery, Amman, Jordan (1995)
  • Sharjah International Biennale for Fine Art, Sharjah, UAE (1996)
  • Exhibition, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Detroit, USA (1998)
  • Exhibition, Damascus Hall, Damascus, Syria (1998)
  • Exhibition, Iraqi Cultural Center, London, UK (1998)
  • Exhibition: Iraqi Plastic Artists, Amman, Jordan (2009)
  • Exhibition: Contemporary Artists from Iraq, Ras Al-Gallery, Amman, Jordan (2019)
  • Annual Exhibition of the Iraqi Plastic Artists Association, Baghdad, Iraq (2019)