Born in 1960 in Baghdad, Iraq, Kareem Risan studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Baghdad, graduating with a degree in painting in 1988. His work reflects his experiences of living through war and invasion; he was a soldier during the Gulf War and witnessed the post-2003 US invasion of Iraq.
His solo exhibitions include the Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad, 1992; Dar Al-Mashriq Gallery, Amman, 1997; Al-Riwaq Gallery, Bahrain, 2005, and Gallery Hittite, Toronto, 2009. Risan has also participated in numerous international group exhibitions including Between the Tigris and Euphrates, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, 1988; The Chair Exhibition, Darat Al-Funun, Amman, 1994; Contemporary Iraqi Art, China International Museum, Beijing, 2001; The Broken Letter: Arab Contemporary Artists, Kunst Gallery, Darmstadt, 2003; Dafatir: Contemporary Iraqi Book Art, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, travelling exhibition, 2005–08; Word into Art, British Museum, London, 2006; Modernism and Iraq, Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York, 2009; Iraqi Artists in Exile, Station Museum, Houston, Texas, 2009; Beyond the War, LTMH Gallery, New York, 2010, and Art in Iraq Today (with Ghassan Ghaib and Nazar Yahya), Meem Gallery, Dubai, 2010. Risan’s work is held in the collections of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman; Kinda Foundation, Saudi Arabia; British Museum, London, and Athar Gallery,
He has lived and worked in Toronto, Ontario since 2006.