Current Projects

First UK Exhibition of Latif Al Ani, Founding Father of Iraqi Photography

The Ruya Foundation is pleased to announce the first UK exhibition of Iraqi photographer Latif Al Ani (b. 1932) at the Coningsby Gallery in Fitrovia. ‘Latif Al Ani’ will run 4 December – 16 December 2017. The exhibition will include over 50 works surveying the artist’s practice from the 1950s to the 1970s. Considered the…

The Iraq Pavilion at the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

A ‘Magnificent Pavilion’ – Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times ‘Excellent’ – Holland Cotter, The New York Times ‘Awash with social conscience’ – The Economist The Ruya Foundation is pleased to present the National Pavilion of Iraq at the 57th Venice Biennale, 13 May – 26 November 2017. The exhibition, ‘Archaic’, shows the work of eight Modern and…

Ruya Notebooks

Ruya Notebooks is a new educational publishing initiative that will release two titles a year. For each Notebook a well known artist, curator or critic will select five short texts that they have identified as fundamental to their creative development. These texts will then be translated into Arabic, in most cases for the first time,…

Ruya Labs

Ruya Labs will be hosted throughout the year in Baghdad, with the aim of nurturing creativity, freedom of expression and international collaborations between artists and cultural professionals. Our past labs are listed below.

Past Projects

‘Invisible Beauty’ at the Erbil Citadel

‘Invisible Beauty’ attracted over 20,000 visitors at the Venice Biennale, between May and November 2015. After transferring to S.M.A.K. (Museum for Contemporary Art) in Ghent in May 2016, the exhibition will be re-staged in the Erbil Citadel in an 18th-century merchant’s dwelling, the Salih Chalabi House. The Erbil Citadel was placed on the UNESCO World…

Calling Calouste: An exhibition of new Iraqi photography in Baghdad

Ruya has commissioned ‘Calling Calouste’, an exhibition of new Iraqi photography. The show will be held at the Ministry of Culture’s Gulbenkian Building in Baghdad that opens on 1 October. The exhibition, conceived by Ruya’s Iraq Director, Furat al Jamil, in close collaboration with the artists, brings together young, emerging and established photographers from across…

Ruya partners with 5th International Çanakkale Biennial

The Ruya Foundation has partnered with the 5th International Çanakkale Biennial, in Turkey, to show new work by artists Akam Shex Hadi and Salam Atta Sabri. Opening on 24 September 2016, this six-week exhibition will explore the theme of Homeland. Both artists have been commissioned by the Ruya Foundation to produce new work around this…

Non-profit booth Art16

As part of our efforts to create international opportunities for, and foster recognition of, Iraqi contemporary artists working both in Iraq and abroad, we took part as a non-profit booth at Art16 art fair in London. We presented work by 12 contemporary Iraqi artists working across a range of media including painting, photography, ceramics, textile,…

Baghdad Exhibition in collaboration with the Embassy of Canada in Iraq

The Ruya Foundation collaborated with the Embassy of Canada to host an exhibition of recent work by Iraqi artists inside the International Zone in Baghdad. Though Baghdad’s artistic and international communities live in the same city, they’ve had little interaction. The exhibition aims to bridge this gap. In June 2015, Ruya’s Baghdad team met with Mr. Robert Bissett,…

Traces of Survival: Drawings by Refugees in Iraq selected by Ai Weiwei

In December 2014 Ruya launched a campaign to provide drawing materials to adult men and women in refugee camps. Ruya visited Camp Shariya, Camp Baharka and Mar Elia Camp and over five days the Foundation collected 546 submissions, including drawings, poetry and prose, all of which will be on display. The submissions present powerful responses…

Database of Iraqi artists

Ruya holds an extensive and unique database of artists working within Iraq, spanning all disciplines from visual arts to theatre and music. We continually strive to promote these artists through collaborative efforts with cultural institutions globally. In April 2016, a portion of this database was made publically accessible, as an online research tool. The Ruya…

Artist Grant: Haider Jabbar

The artist Haider Jabbar was one of the five selected artists for ‘Invisible Beauty,’ Iraq Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, 2015. The Ruya Foundation supported the artist for two years from November 2014, while he was living as an asylum seeker in Samsun, Turkey and later as a refugee in Antwerp, Belgium. Ruya’s chairman…

Invisible Beauty, the Iraq Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

The Ruya Foundation commissioned Invisible Beauty, the exhibition for the Iraq Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. Curated by Philippe Van Cauteren, Artistic Director of S.M.A.K., Ghent, Invisible Beauty features five contemporary artists from across Iraq and the diaspora: two generations of Iraqi photographers, in the shape of Latif Al Ani and Akam Shex Hadi, visual artist Rabab Ghazoul, ceramicist and…

Prince Claus Fund: first drama therapy project launched in Iraq

The Ruya Foundation launched a drama therapy project for children and young people with funding from the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development. The project culminated in a performance at the Muntada Theatre in Baghdad on 3 October 2015 by a group of 15 participants between the ages of 12 and 17. The group, named…

Photography: Ayman al-Amiri

Ayman al-Amiri (b. 1995, Baghdad) is well known among young photographers and filmmakers in Baghdad, for his poignant portraits but also his photojournalism. He was 8 years old when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, and his photographs reflect daily life after the conflict. Ayman’s work has been published in local and international publications as…

Exhibition: Saddam is Here, Jamal Penjweny, Ikon Gallery, UK

The artist Jamal Penjweny presented his first solo exhibition Saddam is Here at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham. To celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2014, Ikon held a series of solo exhibitions highlighting key artists, such as Hurvin Anderson and Julian Opie. Download press release.

Exhibition: Neighbours, Istanbul Modern

The Ruya Foundation presented two Iraqi artists, US-based painter Hayv Kahraman, and Baghdad-based filmmaker Furat al Jamil in Neighbours, an exhibition of contemporary art from Turkey and surrounding countries including Azerbaijan, Greece and Iran, at Istanbul Modern. Hayv Kahraman presented her series ‘Meditations’ and Furat al Jamil screened Baghdad Night, a modern reworking of an Iraqi folk tale,…

Dubai International Film Festival: Baghdad Night

Ruya co-produced Baghdad Night, an animation film based on an Iraqi folk tale by artist and filmmaker Furat al Jamil. The short film premiered at the Dubai International Film Festival in November 2013. It was then exhibited at the Neighbours exhibition at Istanbul Modern, a leading contemporary art gallery in Turkey.

Residency: Jafar Mohamed

In collaboration with the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice, the Ruya Foundation organised a residency for Iraqi painter and printmaker Jafar Mohamed. The artist was given his own studio space and received regular supervision from professors at the Scuola. Ruya organised guided tours of Venice’s artistic institutions, the ongoing Venice Biennale exhibition and a…

Book: Welcome to Iraq Exhibition Catalogue, 2013

The Welcome to Iraq exhibition catalogue launched with ‘Welcome to Iraq,’ the Iraq Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. It includes texts by curator Jonathan Watkins and Ruya’s chairman Tamara Chalabi, as well as recent photographs of everyday life in Baghdad, Babylon, Basra, Erbil and Sulaimaniya by the photographer Ayman al-Amiri. The book is available from the Ikon Gallery’s…

Pavilion of Iraq, 55th Venice Biennale

Ruya commissioned the National Pavilion of Iraq for the 55th Venice Biennale. The exhibition, Welcome to Iraq, was the first to present Iraqi artists living and working in Iraq at an international art platform. Curator Jonathan Watkins, director of the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, and Ruya chairman Tamara Chalabi toured the country, visiting artists in their studios.…