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Nazar Yahya was born in Baghdad in 1963. In the early 1980s, when he was still in high school, he first started working as an illustrator for a children’s magazine. At college, he majored in art, graduating from the painting department at the Academy of Fine Arts in 1987. Using cultural and scientific heritage, and themes of mortality, Yahya makes paintings characterised by an intense palette and clear draftsmanship. Inspired by objects from Islamic history, and drawing on personal experience, he depicts weaponry and armour ironically to highlight the futility of conflict.

Yahya has exhibited extensively throughout the Middle East (in Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar and the UAE) and beyond (including the UK, Norway, Bangladesh, and the USA). His work is found in numerous private and public collections worldwide, including the British Museum, London; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; and the Station Museum in Houston, Texas. It is was also included in the 2011 book Art in Iraq Today, published by Skira and Meem Editions. Since 2008, Yahya and his family have been based in Houston, Texas.