Iraqi palm

Biography of an Iraqi creator

Widad Al-Orfali


Widad Al-Orfali - Iraqi Artist

The artist Widad Makki Al-Orfali was born in 1929 in Orfaliya district in central Baghdad to a wealthy family interested in art. .When she was little girl ,she was fond of drawing. She used to draw anywhere, on the furniture and on the walls of her school, so she was sometimes scolded and beaten, but that did not prevent her from continuing to draw.

When she grew up, drawing became her profession. She studied art and social service at the Junior College in Beirut. She completed her studies at Queen Alia College, and graduated with a first degree in Social Work Department.
She studied 4 years in Dr. Khaled Al-Jader studio and graduated from the Fine Arts Institute (evening department) in 1960.

She became a member of Iraqi Artists Syndicate and participated in many exhibitions in Iraq. Widad Al-Orfali was appointed at Illustration Center to draw illustrations for schools, and worked as an advertising officer as well. She occupied many posts in various departments. She studied the art of mina on copper, and the art of batik on canvas in Paris. She traveled a lot with her husband to many countries around the world that gave her the chance watching museums and galleries.

Al-Orfali announced that she adored Baghdad city because of its charm, beauty and inspiration. Simply, one can notice her distinguished style in her drawings and feels the soul of Baghdad in her works. During her artistic life, she accompanied the pioneer artists in Iraq, such as: Faeq Hassan, Atta Sabri, Ismail Al-Sheikhly, Faraj Abbou and Abdel-Rahman Al-Kilani.
In 1956, she participated in the first exhibition in Baghdad that was visited by King Faisal II, the last king of Iraq, he was very much impressed by one of her paintings and asked to place it in his palace.

While touring European museums and galleries, she dreamed of opening a large art gallery in Baghdad, and that was what she did on 24th October 1983 to become the first private painting hall in Iraq. After a short period, the Orfali Gallery became the cultural lung through which intellectuals, artists, critics and writers breathe.

Her first personal exhibition was held in 1964 at Larredott Hall in Germany, and was attended by King Hussein. The German Chancellor Adenauer visited the exhibition also and bought one of her works. The second personal exhibition took place in New York in 1966. After that, she made several personal exhibitions in many cities around the world.

Widad Al-Orfali grew up in a house that loved art in all its forms and received support and encouragement to sharpen her distinctive talent and tendencies towards music and painting. She studied playing the piano at the age of six years, and after that she continued a journey of eight decades during which she enriched the arts, as she considered music and painting her soul mate.

She was honored by gaining many awards from various from local and international institutes.