Baha Omary Kikhia was born in Damascus, Syria, and studied Fine Arts at the University of Damascus and the University of Baghdad. She was the student of leading artists Fatih Al Muddaress and Faiq Hassan. Earlier in her career, Kikhia moved to New York City, where she exhibited in private galleries, including the United Nations. She has traveled extensively to cities such as London, Paris, and Brussels, and incorporated their influences into her work.
Her style reflects her profound experiences, particularly her Middle Eastern background, her identity as a mother and woman, and her social activism. Her work is a vibrant portrayal of her homeland and people, with an almost nostalgic recollection of its color and role in history.
The cities I draw are cities that have never changed to me. I also address the political view behind the cities – that’s why I repeat the old city in Damascus –
I love it. I draw it over and over again. – Baha Kikhia
Old City Damascus is an excellent example of Kikhia’s style. With a shortened depth of field, we can feel the hustle and bustle of the city and the closeness of its quarters. We can imagine the streets and buildings stacked on top of each other, while the color suggests teeming life and family. The mix of lines and curves lends an aura of centuries of growth, the kind wrought only in very old cultures.
I like the curved line – you can see them in my arched buildings, with streets going in many directions, nothing is straight or even. It’s spontaneous. Perfect balance is not a reality to me. – Baha Kikhia
Kikhia’s work has always been distinguished by its vivacious and sensual aura, along with her unique use of bright colors. She incorporates flowing lines to reflect her belief that life, the city, and people are constantly moving. In particular, she uses her art to show the concept of woman as a powerful and inspiring figure. The commanding presence of “the feminine” is always visible in her depiction of old cities, landscapes, and Bedouin gatherings.
It hurts me a lot to see a woman covered and standing behind the man. She is perceived to have no personality. The cover (hijab/abaya) shouldn’t be symbolic for close mindedness. You can be covered and open. You can have beauty and strength together. And again my women are moving all the time. On the canvas. – Baha Kikhia
Her pieces stand as a vibrant reminder of her exotic culture as well as her inherent understanding of the role of women within that culture. More importantly, they persevere as her own insistent campaign to celebrate the beautiful, the historic, and the good.
Kikhia currently resides in New York City where she continues to express and crystallize her vision and celebration of life. A selection of her work is available for purchase in Kukun’s Shop.