Sabah Arbilli is an Iraqi-British artist who uses the Arabic letter as an allegorical form in painting, mixed media, sculpture, ceramic, and installation. Seeking to investigate moral precepts and to inspire a reevaluation of various themes, Arabic calligraphy allows Arbilli to create a cogent visual language as text, colour, composition, and space guide the viewer through a set of implied questions. In early examples of Arbilli’s work, he adhered to traditional approaches when utilising calligraphic forms in order to understand the theoretical underpinnings of the art form. Once mastering various techniques, he incorporated experimental processes in his practice, gradually arriving at the principles of contemporary abstraction. At the same time, each period of his oeuvre is autobiographical, as the journey of his emigration from Iraq to the United Kingdom can be traced over the course of his artistic development. Themes such as life, change, politics, and the outcomes of man’s choices are described in the overlapping lines and planes that create a sense of volume and depth in his two and three-dimensional compositions.
Born in Iraq in 1977, Sabah Arbilli received a graduate degree in Visual Arts from the University of Wales. Currently based between the United Kingdom and Qatar, Arbilli has widely exhibited throughout the Middle East, Europe, North America, and Australia in galleries, art fairs, biennales, and institutions. An award winning artist, his works are housed in public and private collections, including the national collection of public sculpture in Qatar; the Islamic Museum of Australia; and the United Nations headquarters in Switzerland, where he held a solo exhibition in 2010. The artist’s recent exhibitions include Artspace Hamra (2015); Bait Muzna gallery, Oman (2015); Katara Gallery, Qatar (2015); and Qatar Foundation, Qatar (2015).