Saif was born in 1976 in Bagdad, Iraq. In 1991, after the Gulf War, he was forced to leave his country due to political persecution. He then lived in refugee camps both in Iran and Turkey before settling in Damascus, Syria where he lived for nearly seven years.
In 1998, Saif migrated to Australia, where he spent the first years adapting to the new culture. In 2012 he graduated from the National Art School in Sydney and in the same year became winner of the MUA Blake Prize Award for Human Justice for his video work Unfolding History.I In March 2014 Saif's major paintings were a centerpiece for the exhibition Nahrain at Casula Powerhouse, showcasing works by Australian resident artists with links to Nahrain, part of the ancient region of Mesopotani.
Since 1990 when he held his first exhibition, Saif's work has been exhibited in a number of art galleries in Australia and overseas including Syria, Indonesia and Europe.
It is an ongoing struggle for Almurayati to move beyond the surface of complex themes that have emerged from his ambivalent experience of being between cultures. Text is a significant aspect of Almurayati’s work, allowing him to become a kind of spiritual alchemist. The crescendo of language that accumulates across his canvases inspires a meditative sense of ritual, harmony and optimism. The overlapping and combining of language illustrates how each difference has an affiliation, cultures are derived from one another, yet the core of humanity remains the same.
- Jessica Holburn