Salim Mathkour - Artist Bio

Portrait of the Artist, Salim Mathkour

Portrait of the Artist, Salim Mathkour

In a Few Words

Born In: Al-Emarah, Iraq (1968)

Lives In: Doha, Qatar

Background: Salim Mathkour was born in Al-Emarah in southern Iraq, often dubbed "the Iraqi village." A visual artist, Mathkour attained his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Academy of Fine Arts (AFA) at the University of Baghad. His artistic narrative took an international turn in 1993, leading him to Jordan, where he actively engaged in the art scene for over six years before making Qatar his current residence and workspace. Mathkour's artistic impact resonates globally, with widespread exhibitions across the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and North America. 

Style & Media: Salim Mathkour's artistic vision encompasses a spectrum of life's intricate textures and the serene expanses of the countryside, immortalizing the marsh dwellers and the abandoned Mashhoof boats once used by the Sumerians. Blending realism with poetic undertones and dreams, Mathkour consistently pursues originality by infusing his compositions with rich textures and profound emotional depths. Opting for simplicity and a monotone colour palette, his paintings skillfully portray a gamut of human emotions, from the exuberance of hope and joy to the distressing expressions of sorrow, all conveyed through dynamic brushstrokes that mirror the complex tensions of people navigating in deep crises.

Themes: Choosing to portray the poignant struggles of his native Iraq, Salim Mathkour places a delicate emphasis on the lives of his people, skillfully portraying women and children in moments of playful celebration or caught in reflective contemplation. His canvases resonate with a sense of immediacy, presenting figures endowed with a wisdom that surpasses their years, a necessity for those enduring the challenges of lands under siege.

In a Few More Words

Infusing artistic inspiration drawn from his roots and birthplace, Al-Emarah, the central hub of southern Iraq, acknowledged as "the Iraqi village," Salim Mathkour adeptly entwines his creative expressions with the cultural tapestry of his heritage. Amidst their predominantly agrarian way of life, the inhabitants of "the Iraqi village" coexist seamlessly, fostering a community distinguished by generosity, warmth, and an innate appreciation for the beauty of nature.

Within his brushstrokes, Mathkour invokes the historical resonance of Iraq, suggesting that the cradle of the earliest civilizations may rest within its modern borders. The landscapes he paints, redolent of mud and echoing a shared human narrative, undergo a metamorphic journey as his figures and scenes traverse planes of existence, revealing a consummate mastery of his chosen craft.

Since establishing himself in Qatar in 1999, Salim Mathkour has emerged as a prominent figure in the country's dynamic creative community. His artistic contributions have been showcased in diverse venues, both domestically and internationally. Notably, his works have found a place in esteemed institutions, including the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar, the Fabriano International Watercolour Museum in Italy, and the Cairo Amman Bank in Jordan. Beyond his role as an artist, Salim reflects on his creative journey while also serving as an art teacher, leading workshops that unveil his dream-like artistic style, characterized by distinctive techniques, rich textures, and vibrant hues.

Reflecting on his creative journey, Salim Mathkour eloquently encapsulates themes of Iraqi exile, human tragedy, and childhood memories. His roots serve as a profound muse, allowing him to translate onto canvas the intrinsic beauty of life, whether it be the luminosity of a natural landscape or the serenity of a woman peacefully asleep with a book cradled in her lap. Through his unique blend of realism and dream-like qualities, Mathkour leaves an indelible mark on the global art scene, reminding us of the profound connections that bind us all.

Key Exhibitions


Radiant Darkness, Works by Salim Mathkour, Al Markhiya Gallery, Doha, Qatar (2020)
50 by 50 Part 1, Al Markhiya Gallery, Doha, Qatar (2017)
Almedan, Orfali Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan (2014)
Faces, Al Markhiya Gallery, Doha, Qatar (2013)
Sceneries from Qatar, Al Markhiya Gallery, Doha, Qatar (2010)
Trip: Music by Composer Wisam Katawnah, Orfali Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan (2000)
The Smell of Mud, Orfali Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan (1997)
Death of a King, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain (1992)


    Paths: Part 2, Al Markhiya Gallery, Doha, Qatar (2022)
    Summer Collection: Part 15, Online Exhibition, Al Markhiya Gallery, Doha Qatar (2021)
    IWCS Watercolour Contest, Museo Nacional de la Acuarela Alfredo Guati Rojo, CDMX, Mexico (2019)
    International Watercolour Festival, Lokarjeva Gallery, Ajdovščina, Slovenia (2017)
    International Watercolour Biennale, Ferry Building Gallery, Vancouver, BC, Canada (2016)
    Shanghai Zhujiajiao International Watercolour Biennial, Quanhua Watercolour Art Gallery, Shanghai Shi, China (2016)
    Exhibition, Quanhua Watercolour Art Gallery, Shanghai Shi, China (2016)
    Summer Exhibition, Bisan Gallery, Doha, Qatar (2005)
    Qatar Art Society Exhibition, Bisan Gallery, Doha, Qatar (2004)
    Contemporary Arab Art, Orfali Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan (2003)
    Collective Exhibition, Hammurabi Art Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq (1995)
    Collective Exhibition, Alia Art Gallery, Seeb, Oman (1994)
    Images from Northern Iraq, Iraqi National Museum, Baghdad, Iraq (1991)
    Inana Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq (1995) 

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