Saddam Jumaily (born Saddam Al Saeedi in Basra, Iraq, 1974) is a prominent Iraqi artist, art scholar, writer and poet from Basra. A painter and sculptor with a significant following in his home country and region, his art is particularly known for his use of symbolism to deal with memory and nostalgia.
Jumaily holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and graduated with a master’s degree in painting in 2005 from the College of Fine Arts in the University of Basra, where he soon became a respected lecturer. His contribution to the representation of Iraqi art movements and trends outside Iraq, as a painter, sculptor, art theoretician and critic, have been widely discussed in art studies and articles by modern Iraqi critics.
As well as being a respected painter, Jumaily is both an editor and writer. He has published two books on art theory, and has worked for several publications in Iraq, as well as for other Arab-language newspapers and magazines.
In 2010, Jumaily began to receive death threats from religious groups both from within the university and outside, accused and persecuted for purportedly advocating atheism. He was forced to leave Iraq for Jordan but returned a year later. After several incidents and deaths in his circle, he left the country once more. Jumaily has since been based in Amman, where he has continued his artistic work under highly precarious circumstances.
Safe residency in Helsinki City of Refuge
Saddam Jumaily recently arrived in Helsinki with his wife, textile artist Kholod Hawash. The first three months of their residency will be as guests of the Saaren kartano – Saari residence, funded by Koneen Säätiö – Kone Foundation in Mynämäki, Southwest Finland, as part of the joint Artists at Risk (AR) programme with Saastamoisen säätiö – Saastamoinen Foundation Residency in Helsinki.
With the City of Helsinki becoming a member of ICORN in 2018, one of the Artists at Risk (AR) Residencies is designated as an ICORN Residency, and forms an integral part of AR-Safe Haven Helsinki’s longer-term residency programme. Saddam Jumaily and Kholod Hawash continues as part of the AR-ICORN Safe Haven Helsinki Residency programme. The AR programme is curated by Perpetuum Mobile – PM, the official hosts of the ICORN programme. Jumaily and Hawash are co-hosted with HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme and is funded by the Department of Culture and Leisure of the City of Helsinki.
Saddam Jumaily - works and exhibitions
Jumaily’s work has been exhibited in many international galleries and art auctions such as Contemporary Iraqi Art, Sultan Bin Ali Owais Establishment, Dubai 2012; Iraqi Art-Qatar center, Al Ain, 2013; Abu Dhabi Art Fair, Abu Dhabi 2013; London Art Fair 14, 2014; Beirut Art Fair, Beirut, 2015; “Secret Cards”, Art Dubai 2016; and Christie’s Auction New York 2016. Jumaily’s art is featured in several solo exhibitions, like Household Tunes, Al-Anda House Art Gallery, Amman, 2011; Dialogue Zero Degree, Art Sawa Gallery, Dubai, 2013; Daily Life, Orfali Gallery, Amman, 2013; Dialogue Zero Degree II, Arts Sawa Gallery, Dubai 2014; and Inkography, Al-Anda House Art Gallery, Amman 2017.
Jumaily has written three academic books on art theory and criticism; The Effectiveness of the Aesthetic Discourse: Applications in Iraqi Plastic Arts, Al Adeeb Publishing House, Amman, 2012, and The Side of The Photo: A Question of Originality in Arab Contemporary Art, Arab Publishers’ Association, Amman, 2016, and The Disclosure of the optical text, a study in the overlap of the Plastic Arts, published in 2012.