(b. 1966; resides Chicago, IL)
Wafaa Bilal’s unabashedly political art seeks to provoke. His images of suffering, repression, distortion, and excess draw on symbolism and surprise to make their point, but even as they press the allegorical towards the surreal, their intent to raise issues and spark dialogue remains consistently clear. The pictures range formally from the very painterly to the exactingly photographic and occasionally include the artist as subject.
Bilal was born in Iraq in 1966 and came to the United States in 1992. He studied geography and geology at the University of Baghdad before completing a BFA from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (1999) and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2003). Recent solo exhibitions of his work include In the Shadow of the Surreal, Flatfile Galleries, Chicago; Intamachine, Art Interactive Gallery, Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Perseverance Implied, Arts Media & Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe. In addition to his activity as a performance artist, video artist, and curator, Bilal is also a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.