From 1990 to 2003, the UN embargo, enforced by the US military blockade, utterly crippled Iraq’s economy. The Iraqi people suffered poverty, misery, and isolation; it has been calculated that over 500,000 children have died due to the scarcity of food and medicine. In response to the embargo, Faisel Laibi Sahi drew the faces of people that he encountered, capturing their physiognomies, that is, their temperament and character. Not only does this brilliant series of drawings reveal Faisel’s great draftsmanship but also his profound understanding of humanity.

FAISEL LAIBI SAHI, (from the series), “The Face”, 1989 – 1999, ink and graphite on paper, 40 drawings, dimensions vary

In 1979, Saddam Hussein became president of Iraq, and under his control Iraq experienced three major wars: the Iraq/Iran War, 1980-1988; the First Gulf War, 1990-1991; and the Iraq War, 2003-present. Faisel Laibi Sahi created the War drawings during the period leading up to and during Saddam’s reign. They are compassionate statements that reflect the pain, the resoluteness, and the courage of the Iraqi people.

FAISEL LAIBI SAHI, (from the series), “War”, 1972 – 1999, ink and graphite on paper, 40 drawings, dimensions vary

born in Basra, Iraq, 1947.
Faisel Laibi Sahi graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad in 1968 and the Academy of Fine Arts at the Baghdad University in 1971, with further studies at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and the Université de la Sorbonne in Paris from 1980-81. From 1988-1991, he taught painting and drawing at the Fine Arts School in Skikda, Algeria. In 1992, Faisel published Al Mejrasha—a critical, ironic, and satiric newspaper in London. After living for almost 30 years in Europe, Faisel continues to enrich his understanding of Iraq’s unique and rich cultural heritage from the pre-Islamic Mesopotamian civilizations of Sumer, Babylon, and Assyria. His paintings and drawings express his keen sense of historical identity beyond any patriotic attachment to his homeland. He has exhibited in the UK, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Algeria, as well as in many others countries. Faisel has designed many book covers, magazines, and has written many articles about art, literature, politics, and aesthetics. Faisel currently lives in London, UK.