Vian Sora - Iraqi Born Artist

Born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq during multiple wars, Vian Sora’s paintings are informed by her life. Sora’s works, infused with emotional tension and based on confronting destruction and decay, challenge the boundaries of life through intentional color contrast within abstract landscapes. Sora’s visions fuse her own experiences with Iraqi history, cultural identity influences, and painterly abstraction. Though they are largely abstract, Sora’s paintings suggest figures and places, including gardens and warzones, landscapes of lush fertility and terrible decay, cycles of life and death.

She is a first generation immigrant painter addressing the effects of war and displacement. The foundations of her paintings utilize dark stains and clashing surface textures, which she often disrupts with vibrant paths of color that weave throughout the compositions, reflecting a journey to find harmony within the chaos. The figures and faces that emerge in her frenzied arrangements are references to the bodies, collective and individual, who have been devastated in the ongoing hostilities that besiege her home country.

Sora prides herself in being a self-taught artist, currently working in Louisville, Kentucky, who has received degrees in computer science and an MBA. She studied printmaking under the tutelage of Suleyman Tekcan at the Istanbul Museum of Graphic Arts (IMOGA).

Sora’s exhibitions have been held in Louisville, Baghdad, Istanbul, and Dubai, including at Dar El Cid Museum, Kuwait, IMOGA, and the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul. She recently participated in the KMAC Triennial and has participated in the International Art Festival, Baghdad, and the Sharjah Biennale. Her work has been collected by the Speed Art Museum and KMAC.

Artist Bio

Vian Sora

1976 – Born in Baghdad, Iraq; Lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky
2000 – Bachelor of Science, Computer Science, Al Mansour University, Baghdad, Iraq
2007 – Studied printmaking at Istanbul Museum of Graphic Art, IMOGA, Istanbul, Turkey
2012 – Bellarmine University, MBA, Louisville, Kentucky

Selected Solo Exhibitions

Upcoming – The Third Line Gallery, Dubai, UAE
2024 – “Noosphere”, Independent Art Fair, David Nolan Gallery
2023 – “End of Hostilities”, David Nolan Gallery, New York, New York
2022 – “Subduction”, Luis de Jesus Los Angeles, LA, California
2022 – “What You Shout Into The Woods Echoes Back”, Moremen Gallery, Louisville, KY
2021 – “Floodgates”, Moremen Gallery, Louisville, KY
2019 – “Unbounded Domains”, Moremen Gallery, Louisville, KY
2017 – “Now Here”, Quappi Projects, Louisville, KY
2016 – “Displaced Narratives”, 1619 Flux, Louisville, KY
2015 – “Sacred Journeys‬”, Festival Of Faiths; Featured Artist, Actors Theater Gallery, Louisville, KY
2011 – “Escape Into Life”, US Chamber Of Commerce, Washington DC
2010 – “Between Two Worlds” The Green Building Gallery, Louisville, Kentucky
2008 – “Prophecy” Aspen Gallery & Dar el Cid Museum, Kuwait City, Kuwait
2007 – “Legends of Baghdad“, Showcase Art Gallery, Dubai, UAE
2007 – “Reflections: Istanbul to Baghdad”, IMOGA Art Gallery and Museum of Graphic Art, Istanbul, Turkey
2006 – “Voyage Into Arabia”, Aspen Gallery, Dar el Cid Museum, Kuwait City, Kuwait
2006 – “Vian Sora: A Woman in Time”, Iraq Museum International Exhibition, Boston, MA, Online Exhibition
2004 – “Longing to Past”, Gallery Zamwa – Sulaymaniyah City, Iraq
2003 – “Vian Sora: Selected Works”, Japanese Foundation Culture Center, Ankara, Turkey
2003 – “Neher, Sheher…Misafirat (River, City…Voyage)”, Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul, Turkey
2002 – “Periphrasis, Baghdad” Grundfos office gallery, Baghdad, Iraq
2001 – “Pulses, Shapes and Sense of Time”, Inaa Art Gallery, Baghdad, Iraq

Selected Group Exhibitions

2024 – Art Basel Switzerland, David Nolan Gallery
2024 – Dallas Art Fair, David Nolan Gallery and Luis De Jesus Gallery
2023 – The Armory Show, Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
2023 – “Rounding the Circle: The Mary and Alfred Shands Collection”, Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky
2022 – “Crosscurrents: Contemporary Art from the Speed Art Museum Collection and Beyond”, Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky
2022 – UNTITLED, Art Miami Beach, Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
2022 – The Armory Show, Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
2022 – Expo Chicago, Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
2022 – “Breaking Water”, curated by Amara Antilla and Clelia Coussonnet, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH 
2021 – “New Directions: The Shands Collection”, curated by Julien Robson, Quappi Projects, Louisville, KY 
2020 – “We All Declare For LIBERTY”, curated by John Brooks, Quappi Projects, Louisville, Kentucky
2019 – “KMAC TRIENNIAL”, Curated by Joey Yates, KMAC Museum, Louisville, KY
2019 – “Imagined Monuments”, curated by Keith Waits, LOUISVILLE METRO HALL, Louisville, KY
2017 – “Project 19: The Prolonged Gaze”, Curated by Miranda Lash, Zephyr Gallery, Louisville, KY
2016 – “Navigate, curated by Jesse Levesque”, 1619 Flux Gallery, Louisville, KY
2016 – “Night and the Desert Know Me”, Joan Hisaoka Gallery, Washington DC, USA
2012 – “Under Cover”, Swanson Contemporary Art Gallery, Louisville, USA
2011 – “In the Course of Human Events 9/11-2011”, Louisville Visual Art Association, US
2010 – “Women Imagining Women”, Pyro Gallery, Louisville, KY
2009 – “Spring Show” Total Arts Gallery at the Courtyard, Dubai, UAE
2008 – “Selected works by four artists” Aspen Gallery, Kuwait City, Kuwait
2008 – “Istanbul” Graphic artist annual Exhibition, Istanbul Museum of Graphic Art (IMOGA), Istanbul, Turkey
2007 – “One Stroke”, Lahd Art Gallery, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2006 – “East West Dialogues, Mysticism”, Tugra Gallery, London, UK
2005 – “Art from the Islamic world”, Aya Gallery, London, UK
2005 – “Women through War” Art Exhibition, Al Wasity Art Gallery (Ministry of Culture gallery), Baghdad, Iraq
2004 – “Autumn Exhibition” Gallery M, curator Merriam lequesne, Paris, France
2002 – Four Artist group show, Zamaan Art Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon
2002 – Baghdad Art, International Art Festival, Baghdad, Iraq
2001 – Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah, UAE

Selected Residencies, Grants and Nominations

2022, 2020, 2019 & 2018 – Joan Mitchell Foundation Nominee Painter and Sculpture Award
2021 – Art Residency studio program funded by Great Meadows Foundation, Berlin, Germany
2019 – Great Meadows Foundation Artist traveling grant recipient
2018 – Great Meadows Foundation Artist traveling grant recipient
2017 – Great Meadows Foundation Artist traveling grant recipient
2003 – Art Residency Program August, Bodrum, Turkey
2003 – Grundfos Selected Portfolio Artist, Istanbul, Turkey
2002 – Grundfos Sponsored Artist, Copenhagen, Denmark

Public and Private Collections

Shah Garg Foundation, New York, New York
Leder Art Collection, New York, New York
Pizzuti Collection – Columbus, OH
Grinnell College Museum of Art – Grinnell, IA
Speed Art Museum Collection – Louisville, KY
KMAC Museum Collection – Louisville, KY
The Shands Collection – Louisville, KY
Henry Heuser, Jr. and Donald Whitfield Collection – Louisville, KY
Brooke and Ambassador Matthew Barzun Collection – Louisville, KY
Stephen Reily and Emily Bingham Collection – Louisville, KY
Brook and Pam Smith Collection – Louisville, KY
Kadim al Sahir, Paris, France
Dar Al Cid Museum Collection – Kuwait City, Kuwait
AK Bank Collection – Istanbul, Turkey
Ministry of Culture Contemporary Collection – Baghdad, Iraq
Tareq Rajab Collection – Kuwait City, Kuwait
Italian Embassy – Baghdad, Iraq
French Embassy – Baghdad, Iraq