Azad Nanakeli


Born in Erbil, Kurdistan – Iraq. Lives in Florence, Italy.

An international artist and a citizen of the world, Azad Nanakeli has focused his visual pattern on a multi-layered artistic discourse, at the crossroads between an impressive variety of media: painting, photography, video, installation, and an equally powerful narrative, which gives all his work an almost spiritual touch of coherence and unity. Born in Erbil, today part of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region in Iraq, currently living in Florence, Italy, Azad illustrated his trans-national mix of identity in around a hundred of international exhibitions, culminating in three editions of the Venice Biennale: the Kurdish pavilion in 2009, the Iraqi pavilion in 2011 and the Iranian pavilion in 2015.

Highlighted Memory, his solo exhibition in Dubai, was an invitation to an overview of Nanakeli’s major topics of reflection and a highly representative illustration of his innovative technique based on the overlapping of narrative and mixed media layers. The exhibition proposed a new frame where the artist could freely develop his own timeless connections between personal and trans-individual experiences, between the past and the present, between memory and identity. In Nanakeli’s view, art becomes a recording and a critical process, able to contribute to a comprehension of the social role and the meaning of the artistic practice, proposing a series of reflections on how much art can contribute to the configuration of the modern world representation; interrogating itself at the same time on how the artist can make a correlation between the political reality and the social dramas through their artistic representation. In every layer of pictorial, or sound, or video matter of his works, the artist turns himself into a sort of archaeologist, able to dig and unveil the ‘ghost’ and unexpected faces of the personal and collective experience: it is as if, together with the artist, the viewer would enter his artworks from the back-door of the memory and have access in this way to a privileged and magical storytelling.


1983 Lithographic Arts Diploma, International School of Graphic Arts Il Bisonte, Florence, Italy.
1979 Degree from the Academy of Fine Arts, Florence, Italy.
1975 Degree from the Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad, Iraq.


2022 World Gallery, Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq.
2019 Media Hall Gallery, Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq.
2018 50 Minutes Video Arte, Culturale Art Center of Erbil – Cittadel, Kurdistan.
2017 Highlighted Memory, XVA Gallery, Dubai, UAE.
2017 Mag Gallery, Como, Italy.
2016 3rd Edition International Contemporary Art, Palazzo del Podestà, Gipsoteca Libero Andreotti, Pescia, Italy.
2016 Galleria Civico Otto, Pescia, Italy
2016 Hinterland Gallery, Wien, Austria.
2016 Karsi Sanat Gallery, Istanbul, Turkey.
2015 Museo Moca, Yinchuan, China.
2015 Museo Vignoli, Seregno, Milan, Italy.
2015 Biblioteca Nazionale Universitaria, Turin, Italy.
2015 Museo Storico Nazionale, Tirana, Albania.
2014 Museo Villa Vecchia, Villa Dario Pamphili, Rome, Italy.
2014 Amed Sanat Galerisi Sümerpark, Diyarbakir, Turkey.
2013 The Grate Game, Pavilion of Iran, 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy.
2013 Un Mare d’Inchiostro, Galleria del Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, Florence, Italy.
2013 Serdem Gallery, Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan, Iraq.
2012 Palazzo Granafei, Nervegna, Brindisi, Italy.
2012 Media Gallery, Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq.
2012 Barocco Austero Presenze nel nostro tempo, Museo Regionale del Barocco, Noto, Italy.
2011 Mare di Cinema Arabi, Fondazione Horcynus Orca, Messina, Italy.
2011 Wounded Water, Pavilion of Iraq, 54th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy.
2011 Antiche Cucine dell’ex Monastero dei Benedettini, Catania, Italy.
2010 Visioni Irachena, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy.
2010 The Berlin Wall Media Art, Petro Marko Theater, Valona, Albania.
2010 Illumination, Installation performance, Studio Azad, Florence, Italy.
2009 Planet-K, 53rd Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy.
2009 Homage to Kamel Shiaa Abdullah, Bozar, Brussels, Belgium.
2008 Istanbul Art Fair, Istanbul, Turkey.
2006 Poetronica, Cinema Teatro Moderno, Lastra a Signa, Florence, Italy.
2005 La mossa delle idee, Videodays 2, Sala Santa Rita, Rome, Italy.
2004 Tracce Fuoricentro live, Fuori Centro, Livorno, Italy.
2004 La mossa delle idee, Videodays, Cinema Alfieri Atelier, Florence, Italy.
2004 Cinema Spazio Uno, Florence – Italy
2003 Outlook, National Museum, Krakow, Poland.
2002 Grenzenlos, Volkshalle im Wiener Rathaus, Wien, Austria.
2001 Wayfarer, Galerie Anton Meier S.A., Geneva, Switzerland.
1999 Borup Højskole Art Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark.
1998 Stefanini Gallery, Florence, Italy.
1998 Pilonova Gallery, Ajdovscina, Slovenia.
1997 Dvorni Trg, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
1996 Under anden himmel, Il Salone Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark.
1996 Duca Gallery, Vipava, Slovenia.
1996 Eclisse Gallery, Locarno, Switzerland.
1996 Planque Gallery, Lausanne, Switzerland.
1994 L’Escale Gallery, Brussels, Belgium.
1994 De Muzerije Art Center, Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.
1994 Artforum Gallery, Wien, Austria.