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Artists' Index
Encyclopedia of Modern Art and Arab World
موســــوعة الفـن الحديـــث والعالــم العربـــي
Artists' Index

Khalid al-Jader

خالد الجادر
Khalid al-Jader

​Born in 1922 in Baghdad, Iraq; died in 1988 in Baghdad, Iraq.​

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Khalid al-Jader


Dr. Khalid al-Jader was a highly active participant in the Iraqi modern art movement. He held several prominent positions and memberships in art institutions and organizations throughout his distinguished career. Al-Jader's work is known for its rural landscapes and village vistas rendered in sweeping brushstrokes. He was attracted to Impressionism and his pieces exhibit many of its aesthetic devices. However, his exploration of style and subject matter transcended these aesthetic similarities to produce what the Palestinian writer, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, calls a distinct Iraqi nature.

A gifted student, al-Jader studied at the College of Law and the Institute of Fine Art concurrently, graduating in 1946 with degrees in art and law. He then travelled to Paris on scholarship to study at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in 1954 and earned a Ph.D. in the History of Islamic Art from the Sorbonne. While in Paris, al-Jader joined the Salon de Paris.  

Upon returning to Baghdad, al-Jader accepted the deanship at the Institute of Fine Arts where he stayed for several years. In 1962 under the supervision of the president of Baghdad University, he founded the Academy of Fine Arts along with his colleagues Dr. Aziz Shalal Aziz and Dr. As'ad Abdul Razak, and later worked as its dean. Through these administrative activities, al-Jader demonstrated his engagement in the development of an institutionalized form of art education in Iraq. Concurrent with his academic positions, al-Jader served as chair of the National Committee for Plastic Art with UNESCO.

Al-Jader was equally dedicated to his own artistic practice. His style throughout is so consistent that taken together they amount to a vision of Iraq. His loose, rough brushstrokes are accentuated by his use of contrasted, vibrant colors. Al-Jader's markets, streets, and villages are rendered with frenzied daubs of thick paint, making the canvas pulsate with latent energy. The human figures that populate his scenes are part of this rhythm as they conduct their daily lives. Their vitality merely adds to an already dynamic landscape. Although this dynamism was ever-present in al-Jader's work, it reached a fever pitch in his later paintings with his scenes almost completely abstracted by conflicting strokes of the paintbrush. The seeming chaos of al-Jader's canvases belies an underlying organization that hints at the precision with which the artist executed his canvases. Each color swath is deliberate in application and each figure is carefully placed to create an expert composition.

Al-Jader participated in many important artists' societies, including the Pioneers, the Impressionists, and the Society of Iraqi Plastic Artists. He also spent time as the head of the Society of Iraqi Artists. The painter was also a prolific exhibitor participating in several group exhibitions all over the world. These included Al-Wasiti Festival, the first Arab Biennial, and shows in Paris, Cairo, Brussels, Berlin, the United States, India, Poland, and Russia. He also mounted a number of one-man exhibitions in Baghdad (1955, 1957), Berlin (1959), Prague and Bucharest (1960), Denmark (1965), and Saudi Arabia (1968). Thus his work was both domestically and internationally visible.   

Al-Jader is valued as a meticulous painter. He also demonstrated this thoroughness in his administrative duties. He was known to have held his students and faculty to a very high standard, a standard that he no doubt applied to himself. His work can be appreciated today at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha and the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts in Amman.


​1974​First Arab Biennial, Union of Arab Artists, Baghdad, Iraq
​1972​Al-Wasiti Festival, Baghdad, Iraq
​1968​Solo-Exhibition, Saudi Arabia
​1965​Solo-Exhibition, Denmark
​1960​Solo-Exhibition, Bucharest, Romania
​_____​Solo-Exhibition, Prague, Czech Republic
​1959​Solo-Exhibition, Berlin, Germany
​1957​Solo-Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq
​1955​Solo-Exhibition, Baghdad, Iraq


École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Sorbonne, Salon de Paris, Academy of Fine Arts, Pioneers, Impressionists, Society of Iraqi Plastic Artists, Society of Iraqi Artists, National Committee for Plastic Art with UNESCO, Al-Wasiti Festival, Arab Biennial.


Ali, Wijdan. Modern Islamic Art: Development and Continuity. Gainsville: Florida UniversityPress, 1997.

Bahrani, Zainab and Nada Shabout. Modernism and Iraq. New York: Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University Press, 2009.

Faraj, Maysaloun, ed. Strokes of genius: Contemporary Iraqi art. London: Saqi Books, 2001.

Inati, Shams C, ed. Iraq: Its History, People, and Politics. New York: Humanity Books, 2003.

Jabra, Jabra I. The Grass Roots of Iraqi Art. Jersey: Wasit Graphic and Publishing Limited, 1983.

Mudaffar, May. "Iraq." ​In Contemporary Art from the Islamic World, edited by Wijdan Ali. Amman: The Royal Society of Fine Arts, Essex, England: Scorpion Publishing, 1989.

Further Reading

Merzaban, Daliah, ed. Re:Orient: Invesitgating Modernism in the Arab World 1950s-'70s. United Arab Emirates: Barjeel Art Foundation, 2013.

Pocock, Charles. Modern Iraqi Art: A Collection. Dubai: Meem Gallery, 2013.

Romaya, Bassam, "Iraq and the Question of Aesthetics," International Congress of Aesthetics (2007), 1-15.

Saad, Qassim. "Contemporary Iraqi Art: Origins and Development." Scope: Contemporary Research Topics (Art & Design, 2008) 3, 50-54.

Shabout, Nada, Wassan al-Khudairi and Deena Chalabi. Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art. Exhibition Catalogue. Doha and Milano: Skira Editore S. P. A and Qatar Museums Authority, 2010.