Born in Damascus in 1968, Boutros al-Maari studied printmaking in Syria and received a Doctorate in Social Anthropology from EHESS in Paris, France. Both cultural contexts are reflected in his distinctive paintings. Blending elements of Western and Oriental art, his work captures familiar Damascus haunts like the iconic Al-Nawfara Café; elsewhere, he places historic Western leaders in settings familiar to Arabic culture, as seen in his painting Louis XIV Playing Mahbousheh (2013). In al-Maari’s nostalgic, idyllic world, the best of Syria and France are peacefully united. His paintings are rife with references from art history, with titles such as A Tribute to Cezanne (2009) or Van Gogh and Gauguin (2012), all rendered in his unique style, with the figures painted in monochromatic tones and elongated, caricatured faces, set against either starkly dark or stylistically colorful backgrounds, depending on what the scene dictates.
Al-Maari has exhibited widely in Syria, where he is a Professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Damascus University, as well as internationally in Beirut, Italy, Paris, and Germany