Hiba Alyawer’s work captures our ever-changing spirit with endless color.
For DC artist Hiba Alyawer (@artbyhibaa), summoning the past isn’t frightening; it’s a reminder of the joy she has now. Born along the Tigris River in Baghdad, Alyawer grew up in Kuwait and immigrated to the United States in 1992; she settled in DC in 2010. “Seeing the first Gulf War through the eyes of a teenager served as the influence to the aesthetics of my future paintings,” says Alyawer, whose work, for the most part, is acrylic on canvas. “Painting and creating art is meditative and allows me to express and celebrate the colors of my soul,” she says. “There are segments in time where episodes of life are lived, and the mind goes back in reflection of that time, whether it be of love or [something] lost. Through much experimentation and exploration of layering acrylic paint, I’ve developed a distinctive style.”
Hiba Alyawer “Contentment” (acrylic on canvas) PHOTO BY GLEN GORDON JR.
Alyawer’s abstract work is a vibrant exercise in color blending; these are paintings that fire our collective synapses in fits of delight. The artist says her foundational layer is crimson. Next, for drama, she might mix hot pink or a quinacridone magenta with overlaying orange. “Mediums and mesh are then applied to my work to create textures,” she says. “Layer upon layer, a variety of colors unfold, and a painting is born. My intent is that the artwork can be seen from far away, but also calls the viewer to come closer and see the textures that are built up within layers.”
This year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival committee tapped Alyawer as one of 25 artists to paint a blossom sculpture as part of Art in Bloom. Her work “Happy Dots” was selected by Amazon and purchased by JBG Smith to be permanently installed at National Landing. Alyawer says the sculpture is “a reminder that we are coming out of isolation to gather in celebration throughout the city. Using my signature palette of bold colors, my aim is to create a sense of joy and energy to attract people into a community experience.”
“Midnight Dance” (acrylic on canvas). PHOTO BY GLEN GORDON JR.
One thing collectors will immediately notice about Alyawer’s work is its large scale. “There’s a lot of energy involved with the way I paint,” she says. “Large-scale work allows me the freedom to interact with the canvas. Splashes of paint on large surfaces gives me unlimited possibilities to create various textures and movements.” But like most artists, Alyawer sees her work evolving as she reacts to life events. During the pandemic, she painted on smaller surfaces—a significant departure for her. “It was a challenge—just like the challenge of being alone [during the pandemic]. I titled the work ‘Loud Silence’ because I lived in silence like the rest of the world. During that time, my work changed [as I] added little dots. The dots were people coming together out of the pandemic and into a happier world within my color palette.”
Alyawer in her studio. PHOTO BY TANIA HAUYON
Photography by: Courtesy of Glen Gordon Jr.; Tania Hauyon