Hayv Kahraman, Untitled 4 (detail), 2012, Oil on panel and rawhide inlay, 244 x 117cm.

Hayv Kahraman, the Female Body as Social Gender Indicator

Hayv Kahraman, Untitled 2, 2012, Oil on panel and rawhide inlay, 244 x 117cm.

Hayv Kahraman, Carrying on Shoulder 1 & Carrying on Shoulder 2, 2008, Oil on linen, each panel: 173 x 76.3 cm.


The Third Line
Al Quoz 3
+ 9714 3411 367
Hayv Kahraman

October 24-November 29, 2012

Eminent artist, Hayv Kahraman, returns to The Third Line with new work that tackles the complex relationships between gender and identity constructs; geopolitical and physiological boundaries; and, the perception of self vis-à-vis the demands of conformity within society.

Six panels depicting women extracting a cross sectional slice of their own bodies encompass the gallery space. Expanding on her previous series, Kahraman’s depictions of these women personify a hybrid identity hinting to the affinity of dismembered bodies with fragmented geographical locations. This somewhat crude act of detaching a limb is also reminiscent of a violent uprooting and is revealed materialistically in the work. Manifested through the artist’s heterogeneous use of wood and rawhide, the artist forces an unnatural but seamless coexistence between mixed materials.

First explored in her work Quasicorporeal, Kahraman’s inspiration stems from her personal story and own segmented body scan, which she then applies throughout this body of work. Within this framework, she also includes two rawhide light-boxes in the show that depict a cross-sectioned anatomical slice. The violent and nonchalant aspect of plane sectioning a frozen cadaver speaks to a similar detachment and separation that occurs within people of a diaspora or in exile.

Kahraman further extrapolates this point through a 3 dimensional sculpture, namely the Möbius body. The structure, of no beginning and no end, aims to deconstruct binary notions of mind and body, male and female, inside and outside; where hierarchy is created by one element inherently becoming the subordinate of the other.

According to Kathy Davis, senior researcher at the Institute of History and Culture in Utrecht University, Kahraman’s interest in the female body transcends the aesthetic, prurient and even the imperialist reason of study. The focus instead lies within “the body as an object for thinking critically about the place women occupy in societies around the world. These representations force us to rethink what it might mean for women to be embodied agents in a world that constantly threatens to dis-embody them.” As a result, we are forced to rethink social structures and push boundaries, which when merged, create “extimacy” — or “external intimacy.”

Hayv Kahraman was born in Baghdad, Iraq 1981 and is a graduate of the Academy or art and design in Florence, Italy. Recent solo exhibitions include Pins and Needles, The Third Line gallery, Dubai; Waraq, Frey Norris, San Francisco; Seven gates, Green Cardamom, London. Recent group exhibitions include: The Jameel Tour, The Victoria and Albert museum, London; Institute de Monde Arabe, Paris; Museum of Fine art Houston, Houston; Casa Arabe, Madrid; Disquieting Muses, Contemporary Art Center of Thessaloniki, State Museum of Contemporary Art, Greece (2011); Of women’s modesty and anger, Villa Empain center for the arts, Brussels (2011); Taswir, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin Germany (2010); Unveiled: New art from the Middle East, Saatchi gallery, London (2009). Kahraman currently lives and works in Oakland, California.

Hayv Kahraman, Untitled 6, 2012, Oil on panel and rawhide inlay, 244 x 117cm.

Hayv Kahraman, Sexual, 2009, Oil on linen.

Hayv Kahraman, Hold Still, 2010, Oil on linen, 106.6 x 172 cm.

Mining the Illustrative Process for Cultural Study of Body Modification

Hayv Kahraman, String Figures, 2010, Oil on wooden panel, 147.3 x 204 cm.

Hayv Kahraman, Apperance of Control, 2010, Oil on wodden panels (slidding puzzle), 168 x 247 x 12cm.

Hayv Kahraman, Pic Up Stix, 2010, Oil on panel, 116.8 x 132 cm.

Hayv Kahraman, Mass Assembly (slidding puzzle), 2010, Oil on wood panels, 44.5 x 44.5 x 4 cm.

Hayv Kahraman, Stilts, 2010, Oil on linen, 203.2 x 154.2 cm.


The Third Line
Al Quoz 3
+9714 341 1367
Pins and Needles
October 28-December 1, 2010

For her debut solo exhibition in the UAE, Hayv Kahraman presents yet another powerful series where her female figures with their flowing hair, expressionless faces and slender limbs make one stop, think and take notice. Kahraman’s impeccable illustrative renderings create stunning and at times unsettling, detailed images presenting women in situations and occasions of discomfort or routine. From tragedies such as war casualties and honor killings, to the mundane events of the household, this series forces the viewer to reflect on events that would otherwise be passed over.

Kahraman’s new series sends a strong visual message on the delicate yet persistent subject of body modification. Kahraman continues to explore the feminine psyche, by bringing attention to the heights women will go to achieve perceived notions of beauty.

Societal gender distinctions can be inconspicuous in nature and start early in human developmental stages. Kahraman focuses on one of the divisions in the field of feminist anthropology: the examination of gender maturity by the separation of the biological from the cultural factors which control human behavior and identity. By adding an element of subtle cynicism to this each work incorporates the innocence of childhood games that anchor on the concerns of conditioned behavior and gender roles.

This series of work integrates the feminine and the flesh, serving as a gateway to gain the ultimate perfection in terms of beauty and form. The innocence of the games and toys from childhood bring these terms to a reality: the game of life. The binary opposites of body modification, whether voluntary or forced upon versus the amusement of games and toys, create an ignominious dynamic of unsettling events. Society has taken the alteration of personal appearance and body modification to a level where adding / removing / enhancing / decreasing an area, section or colour resembles the simplicity and ease as children drawing on their faces, or creating colored tattoos during recess. Kahraman uses these crayons to outline areas of flesh they would have surgically adjusted or in another where botox injections and needles are laid in a seemingly nonchalant manner resembling children in a playground.

Her inspiration stems from women who undergo mutilation to their body: those inflicted by force conforming with current social customs, and those which are self-inflicted in terms of cosmetic surgery. Kahraman continues her exploration of the female body and psyche, investigating the disconnection which occurs and tries to trace the stages women have taken to reach the point that she illustrates in her work. Her paintings depict scenes of women partaking in voluntary acts of "beatification", but under the demise that the maintaining of their bodies has been implanted by factors as the opposite sex, ritual traditions or conforms of society.

Comprised of ten paintings, this series includes two sliding puzzle pieces. Made of wood, each piece is an interactive, functional and mobile. The shuffling of the individual panels dismantles the collective image of poised women grooming one another, hands and feet and faces are plucking, tweezing and waxing arms, legs and faces. Creating an excessive cycle of endless outreach towards the unattainable ideal, Kahraman plays with the idea of creating the individual idea of beauty. Literally and visually.

Iraqi artist Hayv Kahraman's highly graphic pictures tend to depict the effects of various social phenomena, mainly those which affect women the hardest. Her wide stylistic references range from Japanese landscape and Arabic calligraphy, art nouveau, Persian miniature and Greek iconography. Kahraman’s impeccable illustrative renderings create stunning but also unsettling, minutely detailed images, presenting situations and occasions from which one would look away. Tragedies such as war casualties and honor killings, botox injections and hymen reconstruction, force the viewer to reflect on things that might otherwise, cultural context or societal, refuse to be seen.

From small scale drawings on parchment, Kahraman has moved on to work in a larger scale and on canvas and wood, painting flat patterned areas contrasted with expressionless faces, highly rendered in Renaissance inspired techniques. She works with these surfaces, integrating the wood grain and textured canvas to her painting as negative / positive space, or within a fabric section. Her subjects have covered the more mundane forms of oppression and ways women are perceived in society.

After studying graphic design at the Accademia di arte e design in Florence, Italy in 2005, Kahraman pursued studies in web design at Sweden’s University of Umeå. She has exhibited at select solo shows in the USA, the UAE and Qatar, and international group shows including the Sharjah Biennale 2009. Kahraman currently lives and works in California, USA.

Hayv Kahraman, Top (or Astrolabe), 2010, Oil on panel, 127 x 91.4 cm.

Hayv Kahraman, Iron, 2010, Oil on panel, 127 x 91 cm.

Hayv Kahraman, I Love My Pink Comb, 2010, Oil on wooden panel, 106.6 x 172 cm.


Hayv Kahraman, Threading My Mustache, 2010, Oil on wooden panel, 112 x 87 cm.