Born in 1939, Dia Al-Azzawi has spent half his life in Iraq and the other half in London, however he still regrets not leaving Iraq earlier. And this regret is rooted in the fact that he was unable, as a young man in Iraq, to experiment freely and grow as an artist. There was major pressure from society to have his artwork, along with that of all artists, to conform with local tradition and laws. The only way to grow and broaden his artistic potential was to escape, which he did in the 1970s. Upon first glance, it is immediately evident that Al-Azzawi’s work is modern and abstract.
His first solo show was in 1964, a turning point for his art career as it opened up new opportunities for him outside Iraq. He soon became well-established in the world of Arab art, and despite his self-imposed exile from his homeland, it did not distance him from his original identity. As his career grew, he started to enhance his traditional paintings by introducing wood and metal. He even made paintings where the canvas was in the shape of a chair or other three-dimensional objects. Currently, Al-Azzawi spends his time creating artwork from his East London studio.