Currently on view at the Third Line Gallery in Dubai is “Pins and Needles” an exhibition featuring work by Iraqi artist Hayv Kahraman. The artist’s drawings portray graceful depictions of women often ravaged by the hardships of war. The figures are reminiscent of Japanese traditional art as well as Persian miniatures and art nouveau posters.
Hayv’s women often struggle with their identity. They appear to shift from whimsical elongated females to unsettling images of honor killings, rape and even transgender identifications. The beauty of the works force the viewer to contemplate unsettling real-life circumstances that many would rather not think of.
Often with expressionless faces inspired by Renaissance techniques, the women in these large-scale works seem to dance from each tragic event as if with grace and ease. Yet while they move it is clear that they struggle and search for their identity within catastrophy. Such haunting images capture the beauty in violence yet search to bring meaning and justice to the reality.
The entire show except for one work was apparently all sold out before the opening night. Hayv’s work has become immensely popular with Middle Eastern art collectors in recent years. Her work has been shown at major galleries in North America, Europe and the Middle East and also exhibited in Unveiled: New Art From the Middle East at the Saatchi Gallery in 2009.