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Red cover of exhibition catalog on Issam Kourbaj, with three black home office stamps. Published by Kettle's Yard, University of Cambridge.

Issam Kourbaj

Edited by Guy Haywood
Text by Åsmund Asdal
Text by Brian Dillon
Text by Bonnie Greer
Text by Rana Haddad
Text by Prerona Prasad


  • Substantial survey publication of the work of Issam Kourbaj, published to coincide with two solo exhibitions at Kettle's Yard (his largest exhibition to date) and The Heong Gallery in Cambridge in Spring 2024
  • Issam Kourbaj has exhibited worldwide and has works are held in the British Museum’s collection
  • Kourbaj’s artistic practice centers on the ongoing Syrian crisis while encompassing broader themes of displacement and forced migration, conflict and loss
Full Description

Issam Kourbaj was born and grew up in Syria before settling in Cambridge in 1990. Following the uprising in Syria in 2011, Kourbaj has been a constant creative witness to the continuing conflict in his home country, his art increasingly addressing the endemic pain and suffering that accompanies displacement and forced migration everywhere. Published to accompany two substantial solo exhibitions at Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge and The Heong Gallery, Downing College, Cambridge, Issam Kourbaj explores the life and work of an artist characterized by collaboration and endless curiosity. Kourbaj’s art is expressive and alive, suggesting even in the darkest hours the potential for change and renewal.

“How can we grasp the remarkable artistic breadth of Issam Kourbaj? Here is an art so full of invention and purpose that its images and ideas reverberate well beyond the walls of any gallery. Kourbaj’s achievement is to make us look, pause and imagine. Engaging with his acute and powerful work makes us consider our responsibility for the conditions of others on our shared planet” – Andrew Nairne, Director of Kettle’s Yard

About the Author

Åsmund Asdal is a Norwegian biologist and agronomist who currently works as Seed Vault Coordinator at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, operated by the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (NordGen). He facilitates seed deposits from the international genebank community. From 2001 to 2015 he managed the Norwegian national program for plant genetic resources at the Norwegian Genetic Resource Center. Brian Dillon is the author of several books of non-fiction, including Essayism, Affinities, Suppose a Sentence and In the Dark Room. His writing has appeared in Frieze, Artforum, the Guardian, the New York Times, the London Review of Books and the New Yorker. He lives in London and has curated exhibitions for Tate Britain and Hayward Touring. Bonnie Greer OBE FRSL is an American-British playwright, novelist, critic and broadcaster. She has lived in the UK since 1986 and has served on the boards of leading arts and cultural organizations including the British Museum, the Royal Opera House and the London Film School. Her memoir A Parallel Life is published by Arcadia Books, and she is a regular contributor to The New European and ByLineTimes. She is currently writing a memoir about James Baldwin. Rana Haddad was born in Syria and moved to the UK at the age of 15. She now lives between London and Athens. She read English Literature at the University of Cambridge and worked as a journalist for the Arab press in London and later the BBC, Channel 4 and other broadcasters. Her novel, The Unexpected Love Objects of Dunya Noor, was published by Hoopoe Fiction in 2018 and was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. Guy Haywood is Curator at Kettle’s Yard, the University of Cambridge’s modern and contemporary art gallery. Since 2010 he has been involved in organizing exhibitions, projects and commissions by leading artists including Oscar Murillo, Anthea Hamilton, Gustav Metzger, Sutapa Biswas, Ai Weiwei and others. In 2021 he co-edited Oscar Murillo: by means of a detour. Prerona Prasad is Curator at the Heong Gallery at Downing College, a gallery specializing in modern and contemporary art. After obtaining her DPhil from the University of Oxford, she began a career in exhibition management and curation. She has curated solo exhibitions of artists including Quentin Blake, Elisabeth Frink, Charles M. Schulz, Soheila Sokhanvari, Gavin Turk and Stuart Pearson Wright. Forthcoming curatorial projects include solo exhibitions of Alison Wilding RA and Rasheed Araeen.

Kettle's Yard, University of Cambridge
15th Apr 2024
Paperback / softback
USA & Canada
8.35 in x 10.24 in
112 Pages
103 color, 6 b&w
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