Ali Almimar: A Personal Profile
A Personal Profile of Ali Almimar
By Lisa Abraham
with contributions from Members of the Community
I really don’t remember when I first met Ali Almimar as I feel I have known him forever. Our paths have crossed many times all over the globe and each visit has been special. As a person, Ali is kind, warm and deeply sincere. As an artist, his work is stimulating—both mentally and emotionally; it is inspirational; and finally, it has been influential throughout the entire world of Arabian horses. Like many, I am a big fan and have been captivated by his talent since I was first introduced. The depth of Ali’s work is inviting as every solitary element contributes meaning and is heartfelt. His paintings are complete thoughts which speak entirely for themselves.
Ali was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1965. His career as an artist began in 1985 when he was awarded a Gold Medal for a painting in a Youth Festival. Later that year he graduated from the Baghdad Institute of Fine Arts. Then in 1991, he graduated from the Baghdad College of Fine Arts. Since that time his career has skyrocketed and he has become one of the most accomplished painters of Arabian horses in the world. He has been invited to exhibit his work all over the globe which have included many of the Arabian horse world’s most prestigious venues. Recently he was honored at Bait Al Arab, State Stud of Kuwait, with an elaborate exhibition during their 2017 International Show.
What do you want people to perceive from your work?
The primary message I hope to deliver is the nobility of knighthood in a time when all the values of chivalry have been lost. To me, a horse comes very close to representing humans, more so than any other breed. Therefore, I want people to see a story as it relates to a human experience. Although I paint horses, it is the human element that I want to come through such as a story of the relationship between a man and a woman; of a woman with her children; or of family life in general. For example, when I paint a sad or romantic situation, I want to send a message about feelings as they relate our lives.
What is your connection to the horse?
In my history, the horse represents many things. Like the horse, I am also originally from the desert. Although I live in the city now, I still feel a very close relationship. When I describe the horse, I never use the word ‘animal’, instead I feel the terms beautiful ‘dream’ or ‘image’ to be more appropriate. Maybe I feel this way because of the deep connection I have with Arabian horses. I have been asked, ‘Ali why don’t you paint camels, falcons or other types of horses?’ The reason I don’t is because I can’t—I don’t feel those subjects and I can’t paint something I don’t feel—there is nothing between me and those other subjects.
When did you start painting?
I started painting when I was eleven or twelve. I participated in a competition in which I earned first place. I still remember the gift I was awarded—it was very beautiful and special. From that time, I have saved all of my drawings and still reference them occasionally.
What has been a major influence in your life as a painter?
In the year 2000, I visited the Louvre Museum (Paris) for the first time. Some people don’t see anything in these paintings beyond nice pictures, but for an artist it’s different. If one has a good eye for details, it’s easy to understand what the artist wants to convey through the techniques used as well as the colors. For an artist, there are so many details to be observed. I was 35 at the time, and after this visit, I stopped painting. It made me feel like my contribution was nothing--I felt worthless. During my break, I asked myself, ‘Where am I in this world?’ I knew I had to find my place.
After four months, I returned to my art and I made an excellent painting. I felt as though, in my time away, that I had studied for years. Not only do I believe this visit empowered me as the quality of my work greatly improved, but it also changed my life and my art. To this day, I continue to visit museums all over the world. Besides the Arabian horse, my biggest inspiration continues to be the work of other famous artists. After seeing great art, I get the feeling that I want to go to my studio to paint—immediately. When I feel this way, I cannot sleep.
People who are creative for income must accept criticism. What is your perspective on this?
I want criticism. I rarely explain anything about my art—rather, I like to hear from others what they see as sometimes they see more than I do. Although it’s never not far from what I intended, it’s nice to hear different perspectives. In particular, I find it informative to know what non-artists and even non-horse people see. For example, my mother, who died in 2012, had a good eye for art. Even though she never studied art and was not familiar with horses, I respected her opinion. While my wife of twenty years has been close to the both the Arabian horse and the art world, offers me perspectives on ways to finalize my work. I am also grateful for the input of my colleagues.
Besides studying art itself, what have been other sources of knowledge for you?
In Egypt, I learned so much--particularly about the horse. I have also learned a great deal from Arabian horse people as they have helped me understand the horse as a being, not just the anatomy. Anatomy I can learn by myself. But through my friends I have learned many things about the life of a horse that have given me ideas for my work.
What people have been instrumental in your career as an artist?
There have been several. The first was my original art teacher, Fa’ik Hassan, a famous Iraqi artist. In 1988, he guided my first steps into the horse world when I was a university student. He also inspired the love I have for Arabian horses. In the 1990’s, I visited Jordon several times and it was there where I had my first exhibition outside of Iraq. On one of my visits I met HRH Princess Alia Al Hussein. I found her to be an amazing person and an icon of modesty. She provided me with great support and has helped promote my artwork worldwide.
Dr. Nasr Marei has also been a very dear person to me—I consider him to be an older brother. Even though we don’t see each other often, he has a special place in my heart and I have great respect for him. As well as being a great breeder and judge, Dr. Marei is also an artist. Therefore, he understands art and the artistic process. His perspectives of my work have been totally different and as a result, have been a source of great learning for me. From every conversation we have had about art, I felt as though I gained experience. Due to Dr. Marei’s stories, some of my favorite paintings have been inspired by his horses at his Albadeia Stud in Egypt. In the past, when I photographed his horses for reference material, there have been times when, from the moment I released the shutter on my camera, a painting was already in my head.
Contributions from Members of the Community
Mr. Ali Almimar needs no introduction as he has well established himself as one of the most famous professional artists in the world painting Arabian horses. I have known Mr. Ali for many years and as a breeder and art lover myself, I developed a keen interest in his significant paintings of the Arabian horses; I am proud to have acquired quite a few of his wonderful paintings as part of my collection.
I am sure that from the beginning, Mr. Ali’s passions were drawing and horses as it is evident in the outcome of his various paintings. His love for horses and the details I have seen in his paintings are truly marvelous and breathtaking. I would say that as a professional artist, Mr. Ali has been an asset to the Arabian horse world and while I wish Mr. Ali every success, I look forward to his magical hands to produce more valuable paintings in the years to come.
~Mohammed Al Marzouq (KWT), Ajmal Arabian Stud
Iraq has a history of great artists. As an Iraqi myself, I can share that art classes were always part of our schooling, which included the traditional arts of jewelry making, carpet weaving, pottery and painting. Also, I have known several Iraqi artists who specialize in the Arabian horse such as Qasim Ali, Fawaz AL-Banna, and of course, Ali Almimar.
Ali was first brought to my attention by Princess Alia Al Hussein. She met him in Jordan early in his career before he was well known. She was very impressed with his talent and supported his early work. Soon Ali was visiting horse shows in the Emirates, Europe and the USA. His artistic depictions of the Arabian horse were very well received by breeders around the world.
Soon Ali’s paintings graced the homes of major breeders and Royal families. In addition, his paintings were auctioned at the US Egyptian Event for several years. His style is recognizable for capturing the spirit and elegance of the Arabian horse. I am proud that my country of birth has an artist of such caliber sharing his talents worldwide--and I am proud to call Ali a friend.
~Majid Alsayegh (USA)
I was visiting Qatar many years ago when I first saw Ali Almimar’s work and instantly felt that his artwork would be appreciated by our Pyramid Society membership. I approached him about this possibility and certainly my hunch proved to be a good one! Ali’s originals have since been included in many Pyramid Society fund-raising auctions, often being the high-selling piece. I’ve always loved his style – ‘loose’, yet able to capture the essence and spirit of the Arabian in such a magical way. Each time I would take his pieces to be framed, we would ‘oooh’ and ‘awww’
about how much we loved them and how fortunate those lucky winners would be to have an Ali Almimar gracing their homes--and of course--we still feel that way!
~Anna Bishop (USA), Executive Director of The Pyramid Society
I am a person who appreciates fine art. A few years ago while in the Dubai International Airport, I saw a huge mural painting depicting Arabian horses dwelling in their native desert that was breath taking. I studied the details of each of the horses in amazement. I said to myself that whoever painted this has a great knowledge as to how an Arabian horse should look. I scanned the enormous piece of art for the name of the artist--it was Ali Almimar.
My visits to the UAE were repeated and eventually I got the privilege of meeting this young artist who had captured my admiration and respect. On several occasions, I visited him at his home and studio, as well as attended his exhibitions wherever they were. In addition, I am proud to say that we became very close friends and I feel privileged to have many of his paintings adorning my home. Besides Ali, there are only two other modern era artists who are able to detail the Arabian horse in the way that I see it. However, Ali's style is more to my taste. His choice of colors and portrayal of horses integrated in their natural habitat is remarkable. His paintings are so inspiring--they simply enrich my thoughts and heart.
Ali had to leave his country (Iraq) with his family when the Gulf war broke out and moved to the UAE. There his work became well known and art collectors sought to acquire pieces. He became a well-deserved celebrity. Then, a few years ago, he and his family moved to Canada where he now resides. Fortunately, we still have the pleasure of seeing him frequently in our part of the world. As a person, Ali is great gentleman and a dear friend. He is a modest, cultured, extremely talented artist and a great human being as well. I absolutely consider Ali to be one of the best painters in history who portrayed Arabian horses.
~Dr. Nasr Marei (Egypt), Albadeia Stud
The work of Ali Almimar is among the finest depicting the Arabian horse today. His classical training is apparent in all of his work and his use of color and light is always compelling. Ali is also a tremendously versatile artist and it is always a pleasure to see his work in other genres as well. Those who are privileged to own the work of Ali truly possess a treasure!
~Cynthia Culbertson (USA)
My first encounter with my friend Ali Almimar was in 2004 at The Egyptian Event in Lexington Kentucky. That same year that I released my book, "Authentic Arabian Horse Names: Volume I,” and was invited by The Pyramid Society to come to the Egyptian Event to do a seminar and a book signing. While at the Event, Anna Bishop introduced me to Ali Almimar and we have been friends ever since.
Ali is caring, religious and generous man. Much of his work he donates to different charities both here and abroad. When he moved from Sharjah (UAE) to Toronto (Canada), I asked him if he could come to Syracuse N.Y to be a guest speaker at an art center, to which he agreed. During this visit, in which he also brought his family, he treated the guests to an equine painting which he created in front of them. The admiration he received from the guests was overwhelming. When he completed the painting he donated it to the art center to be used as a fundraiser.
He is also a wonderful family man and a great friend to many. As devoted as he is to his art, he is just as devoted to his family and friends. He is always there for us. We remain in constant contact and visit in person from time to time. The Egyptian Event is special for us so we often share booth space, laughter and great camaraderie. I am very lucky to call him a friend.
~ Bachir Youseph Gergi Bserani (Syria), Al Moussami
I've watched Ali Almimar develop as an artist since he first began painting for Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Khalid Al Thani, at Al Rayyan in Qatar. He developed a very distinct style, and his trademark of the 'blue bead' instantly identifies his work. He is certainly one of the foremost Arabian horse artists of today, having his own exhibitions even at the famed Mathaf Gallery in England, and his paintings hang in the collection of many of the foremost breeders in the world. Ali has a freedom in his work that gives life to his canvases and he is not afraid to experiment with occasional unrealistic styles. It has been a pleasure to know him and to watch his continual evolution as an Arabian horse artist.
~Judith Forbis (USA), Ansata Arabian Stud
Knowing Ali now as a friend for many years is the added bonus to owning one of his paintings which portrays a beautiful mare hanging her head over the stall door looking out as if seeing herbeloved human approaching. It's always fun to see he and his son, Abdul, each year at the Egyptian Event. He has even helped us choose a name for a special colt. Ali has a rare talentdemonstrated by his amazing sensitivity to his subject matter. He knows Arabians and paints them in all their varied and animated expressions. His style is distinctive, yet loose and freelypainted in a semi abstract way--all while capturing perfectly the movement and expression of his subject, the Arabian horse. It does not matter whether they are placed in humble stables or exotic desert locales, they perfectly display an Arabian horses' innate beauty. For me his style is reminiscent of the great American portrait painter, John Singer Sargent but instead of humans he paints the ethereal and magical Arabian horse in a remarkable way.
~Christie Metz (USA), Silver Maple Farm
I have had the good fortune to know Ali Almimar for many years and am continually delighted by his art and his well-earned success. Ali’s amazing talent as an artist is complemented by his openness to continuously develop and add new elements in his work--which means that it never stales. It was his desire for perfection which made him so keen to understand and represent his equine subjects emotionally as well as physiologically. I believe that this has contributed greatly to his ability to create beautiful paintings which speak to us so clearly. I wish Ali every continued success and am extremely happy to count him as a good friend.
Princess Alia Al Hussein (Jordan)
"A Personal Profile of Ali Almimar," by Lisa Abraham was sponsored by Judy and Kim Nordquist
For information on Judy & Kim Nordquist~Sculptures in Bronze:
Ali Almimar's website:
Lisa Abraham is an International Journalist and Photographer from the United States. Although she does free-lance for various media, her primary dedication is to Arabhorse.com as a Premier Contributor and Representative.