Hafed Aldruby was and is still one of the most respected and well known pioneers of modern Iraqi art. Known as the city painter Aldruby was born in 1914. His journey began when he was sent to study art in Europe; he studied art in The Academy of Rome (1936-1940) where he had to return to Baghdad due to the start of the Second World War. Aldruby then earned a governmental scholarship to attend Goldsmith University of London in 1947 to continue his studies and graduated with a degree in Art Studies (1947-1950).

Aldruby was the among the first group of Iraqi Artists to study art in Europe, this group then became the pioneers of modern Iraqi Art. They were the only link to western art discourse until the Second World War, when a group of Polish artists arrived in Baghdad. They introduced an expressionist mode that captured the minds of Iraqi artists, among which of course Aldruby adapted his free style that drew attention to the beauty of his capital city, Baghdad and the Iraqi innovative legacy. Hence, Aldruby was known for establishing the Iraqi Impressionist movement in 1953. The group maintained a unique commitment to developing academic art and raising the awareness of the Iraqi public to this subject.

It is vital to mention that Aldruby established the first freelance art studio (atelier) in 1942, Baghdad. He was also one of the founding members of the first Iraqi Art Friends Society, taking part in its exhibition in the years 1941-1945. He became the chairman of this society for six years, and was the Dean of the Iraqi Fine Arts Academy in Baghdad for six years also. He participated in other art exhibits such as The Avicenna Exhibition in Baghdad, 1952. He took part in numerous Iraqi art exhibitions in Europe, 1964. A significant event in the history of the Iraqi Impressionist movement was in 1953 when the impressionists held an exhibition outside Baghdad in Basra. This was important as they had created this event to expand the modern Iraqi art movement in order to introduce the public and upcoming artist of this new form of art. This event had pleased the young Iraqi artists living in Basra, as it was the first time they had an exhibition presented in their city. During the exhibition Aldruby met the artist Ibrahim Al Kamali, in which he later joined the impression group. Aldruby was one of the four artists honoured by the Iraqi state at the al- Wasiti Festival in 1972, and had also received many honorary awards from UIA and SIPA. His art can be located worldwide, mostly in museums, art galleries and private collections.

Aldruby had the ability to present new ideas and challenge the established rules of academic art. His paintings not only portrayed the visible subject but were a reflection of his soul and mind. Aldruby was an artist of deep thought who truly represented all aspects of his subjects in precise detail. This was the key that inspired Aldruby to develop and maintain a unique style and technique that differentiated his art from others. Aldruby was very precise with his use of colour when painting, which makes it impossible to repeat any of his carefully drawn paintings that are rich with exceptional colours. His use of colour was so beautifully accurate and transparent, that it truly reflected his feeling for his beloved Baghdad. In which this was the main subject for the majority of his paintings.

I have known Aldruby for a very long time; as far as I can remember I have never known someone that enjoyed painting with such great passion and love. Aldruby was dedicated to art with such a high sense of responsibility when trying to deliver his best. Dr. Ala Bashir, 2011. Aldruby’s work was influenced by Picasso, Dali, Van Gough and Cezanne. Throughout the years his perspective of art changed, he had managed to incorporate different forms to his style. These styles ranged from academic, abstract, cubist to impressionist. His aim was to establish a new movement of art to be distinguished and known as Baghdady Art. Aldruby produced realistic paintings, with naturalistic dimensions and perspective of daily traditional Baghdady scenes, a rapidly disappearing rural life, cityscapes, and historical subjects, with a distinct use of light. Most of his mature works kept a similar subject matter, but his style became more accustomed with cubism and abstract forms with straight distinct lines and flat colours. Among his Baghdady themed paintings, Aldruby also drew a number of historical paintings such as the Qadesea Battle, the Babylonian and Assyrian eras. His work portrays how colours and abstract shapes create a feeling of spontaneity, hence influencing and mentoring a generation of Iraqi and Arab artists.

A pioneer of modern Iraqi art, co-founder and chairman of the first Iraqi Art Society, the Dean of Iraqi Fine Arts Academy, a teacher, husband and father, Aldruby has never failed to capture the mind and hearts of Iraqis and Arabs around the world. His beautiful and immaculate paintings will pass on through generations inspiring artists to achieve their finest with a great sense of passion, commitment and most importantly spontaneity.