On View: Hayv Kahraman’s “How Iraqi Are You?” at Jack Shainman Gallery

by Nastia VoynovskayaPosted on

Hayv Kahraman
Kachakchi, 2015
oil on linen
79 x 108 inches
©Hayv Kahraman. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

“Expatriation and exile fracture forever any sense of belonging and any hope of ever being complete,” wrote curator Octavio Zaya in his statement for Hayv Kahraman’s solo show at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, “How Iraqi Are You?” Kahraman’s autobiographical paintings on linen ruminate on her early childhood in Iraq, her upbringing as a refugee in Sweden, and her struggle of navigating two disparate cultural identities.

With their compositions mimicking 12th-century illuminated manuscripts, the pieces feature identical female figures sharing activities that define young womanhood. Though Kahraman modeled them all after her likeness, some figures appear have a master-disciple relationship while others look like peers, trading gossip and even exploring with each other sexually. Text flanks the characters, working as both a design element and a narrative framework from which to interpret the images (for those who know the Iraqi Arabic dialect, that is). Filled with bilingual puns and vulnerable revelations, the exhibition gives insight into coming of age as a person caught between two cultures.

Hayv Kahraman’s “How Iraqi Are You?” is on view at Jack Shainman Gallery through April 4.


Hayv Kahraman
Naboog, 2014
oil on linen
115 x 110 inches (in two panels 115 x 55 inches each)
©Hayv Kahraman. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.


Hayv Kahraman
Ummo-doch, 2015
oil on linen
100 x 79 inches
©Hayv Kahraman. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Hayv Kahraman
Person nummer, 2015
oil on linen
96 x 73 inches
©Hayv Kahraman. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.


Hayv Kahraman
Broken Teeth, 2014
oil on linen
96 x 73 inches
©Hayv Kahraman. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.


Hayv Kahraman
Swedish Class, 2014
oil on linen
104 x 79 inches
©Hayv Kahraman. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.


Hayv Kahraman
Wattania Class, 2014
oil on linen
104 x 79 inches
©Hayv Kahraman. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.


Hayv Kahraman
Naboog, 2014
oil on linen
115 x 110 inches (in two panels 115 x 55 inches each)
©Hayv Kahraman. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.


Hayv Kahraman
Barboog, 2014
oil on linen
108 x 72 inches
©Hayv Kahraman. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

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