Halim Al-Karim (Iraqi, b.1963) is a Contemporary artist known for out-of-focus images that explore issues of power, violence, and memory. Born in Najaf, Al-Karim studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad and the Ritveld Academy in Amsterdam. An opponent of Saddam Hussein, Al-Karim fled military service during the Gulf War and hid for three years in the desert, living in a hole in the ground before immigrating to America. This experience greatly influenced his later work, as well as his turn to mysticism and spirituality.
In his photographs, Al-Karim depicts subjects that are covered by a veil or out of focus, creating ephemeral, dream-like compositions. His work deals with the shifting mentality of urban society, and asks viewers to confront the hidden realities that often go unacknowledged in contemporary culture. With his work blurring the boundary between reality and optical illusion, Al-Karim evokes his past experiences the psychological need to escape. He has also developed a close relationship to the traditions, philosophies, and symbols of his Iraqi heritage, particularly the Sumerians.
Al-Karim has held solo exhibitions at venues in Dubai, Paris, Holland, the United States, Jordan, and Lebanon. He was nominated for the 2010 Sovereign Art Prize, and was awarded the jury prize in the International Cairo Biennale in Egypt. He was one six artists whose work was featured in the Iraqi Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale. His work is in the collections of major institutions, including the Arab Museum of Contemporary Art in Doha, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Saatchi Collection in London, Darat Al Funun in Amman, L’Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, and the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. He lives and works in Denver, CO, and Dubai.