Born in the port city of Basra in Iraq, Faisel Laibi Sahi graduated from Baghdad’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1968 and from the Academy of Fine Arts at Baghdad University in1970 His first exhibition was at the Basra Cultural Centre gallery in Iraq in 1966, followed by an exhibition in 1972 at the Iraqi Artist Society in Baghdad. He then attended and graduated from Paris` École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts in 1981, and from the Université de la Sorbonne – where he studied the history of art. He lived in Renaissance town Florence, Italy from 1984 to 1988, then moved to Annaba, Algeria, where he taught art at Ecole des Beaux Arts de Skikda, and then, in 1991 he relocated to London. At that time Sahi published a London-based satirical newspaper, Al Mejrasha from 1992 to 2002. For the past three decades, he has lived in London, yet he continues to draw inspiration from the rich cultural heritage of pre-Islamic Mesopotamian Civilization, specifically Sumeria, Babylon and Assyria.
Sahi’s roots are deeply founded in art; growing up in a family of practicing artists – his oldest brother, Ali and his younger brother, Abdulillah and sister, Afifa are also painters. Sahi’s art is a critical reflection on the politics and culture of Iraq. While Faisel matured as a figurative artist outside of his home country, Iraqi traditions continue to influence his practice. As a master draftsman, his figurative drawings and vibrant paintings clearly reflect this important connection to his heritage. His work is informed by aspects of Mesopotamian mythology, Islamic art, and archaic Arabic literature.
Reflecting on Iraqi social life, his paintings are a combination of reality and fantasy, interweaving form, aesthetics, and context. He has lived and worked in London since 1991 with his wife, author/composer, Aicha Khellaf.