Female Artists Reflect on Iraqi Life Through Art Pt. 1

These women came to Iraq from different spots in the world and integrated into the Iraqi culture and life. Their works depict either their love for Iraq or challenge to fit in.


Baghdadiyat (1962) by Lorna SELIMIbrahimi Collection

Ibrahimi Collection will be dedicating this story to celebrating and appreciating the creative and inspiring foreign women artists of Iraq as their artworks are as interesting as their lives. 

Shepherds Women (1966) by Suzanne AL-CHAIKHLYIbrahimi Collection

Suzanne Al-Cheikhli (1920 - 2008)

Artist Suzanne Al-Cheikhli was born in 1920 in France to a French family.
She studied and graduated from the Institute of Applied Arts in Paris in 1940.

She married renowned Iraqi artist Ismail Al-Cheikhli (Graduate of The  National School of Fine Arts (Beaux-Arts de Paris)) at the beginning of the 1950s and lived with him in Baghdad until she passed away in 2008.

Landscape - Palm Trees by Suzanne AL-CHAIKHLYIbrahimi Collection

In 1953, she joined the Pioneers Group and participated in all its exhibitions until 1983. 
She participated in many exhibitions outside and inside Iraq. 

In 2008, she passed away in Baghdad, Iraq, at the age of 88 and was buried there.
She was a member of the Iraqi Artists Syndicate and the Iraqi Fine Artists Association.

Iraqi critic Adel Kamel says about Suzanne Al-Cheikhli: 
“She expressed her admiration for the Iraqi environment to choose the realistic-impressionistic method in depicting a local character and modifying it.”

Mashhoof (1987) by Suzanne AL-CHAIKHLYIbrahimi Collection

“She loved the orchard of Baghdad and its landscape so she went to express this realm for a long time.”

“In her drawings, the viewer will find this intimate connection through the lyricism and heat of the colors and through the eastern serenity and poetic transparency of the city of Baghdad that she inhabited and which became a deep part of her.”

Baghdadiyat (1962) by Lorna SELIMIbrahimi Collection

Lorna Selim (1928 - 2021)

Artist Lorna Selim was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom in 1928.
She studied painting and design and graduated from the Slade School of Fine Arts in London in 1948.

She later studied art for a year at Tapton House School in Chesterfield, UK, and in the same year of 1950, she met illustrious Iraqi artist Jewad Selim in London when he was studying there.
They married and returned to Iraq. This marriage produced two daughters and very charming and productive life for both artists.

In 1951, she was appointed as an art teacher in the Foundation School in Baghdad, and co-founded along with Jewad Salim, Shaker Hassan Al-Said, and other artists the "Baghdad Group for Modern Art" and participated in their first exhibition.

Scene of Baghdadi Quarter (1964) by Lorna SELIMIbrahimi Collection

Her husband, Jewad Selim passed away in 1961 before finishing the Freedom Monument, so she participated in supervising and completing the monument with artist Mohammad Ghani Hikmat, and then she was appointed as an art teacher in the Women’s College.

She remained in Iraq for many years then she moved to the United Kingdom where she passed away at the age of 93 in 2021. 

She participated in many exhibitions inside and outside Iraq and was a member of the Friends of Art Association and Iraqi Fine Artists Association.

Façade of Baghdadi Houses (1967) by Lorna SELIMIbrahimi Collection

Iraqi Artist Dr. Khalid Al-Qassab said about Lorna Selim: 
"After her arrival to Baghdad in 1950, Lorna Selim was impressed with the old Baghdad houses that overlooked the Tigris River."

“As a result of the wave of modernization in Baghdad, a large part of these houses were demolished and new ones were built in a modern architectural way instead.”

“So, she rushed to document these houses in Baghdad’s old neighborhoods, which were more than a hundred years old.”

“Lorna Selim’s works were distinguished by the precision and fine-tuning of details and the use of earthy colors that inspire the fragrance of heritage and pay tribute to the originality and beauty of Baghdadi architecture.” - Dr. Khalid Al-Qassab

“Activity returned to her life, and painting saved her from emptiness and loneliness, so she continued going to the places that called her, to achieve the drawings from the living Baghdadi environment, then she returned to her house and began to color the scene in one color, smoldering or curing, like a fruit that goes through its transformation to ripeness. 

In Baghdad, when a sandstorm blows, houses, streets, trees, the river and the sky wear one color, which is the color of mud” – Iraqi Writer and Journalist Inaam Kachachi

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