Syria

Sara Naim

Born in London in 1987, and of Syrian origin, Sara Naim grew up between Dubai and London.  Her photographic, sculptural, and installation work is concerned with exploring notions of interiority and exteriority as mediated via the body.    Her solo show at The Third Line Gallery, When Heartstrings Collapse (2016), investigated the cellular composition of the human form by scaling up micro images of skin cells and presenting them as sculptural works and large-scale photographs.  Trained as a photographer, Naim received her MFA in Fine Art Media from The Slade School of Fine Art, London, and holds a Bachelor in Photography from the London College of Communication.  She has held numerous solo shows in Dubai, London, Copenhagen, and Jura, France.  She was nominated for the Denton Art Prize (2016) and was awarded the Making Pictures Award (2013) and D&AD, New Blood Award (2013). She has completed residencies at Beirut Art Residency, Lebanon, and Cité Internationale des Arts Residency, Paris.  

Fadi Al Hamwi

Fadi Al Hamwi is a multimedia artist, specializing in painting, video, and installation works.  His body of work reflects a preoccupation with exploring the human experience of war, using sarcasm as a tool to criticize social traditions, beliefs, and superstitions. His figurative paintings of animals and humans use x-ray techniques to reveal the underlying bone structure of his subjects – a technique that reveals both the commonality and baseness of their individual forms.  Dark in tone and execution, Hamwe’s work invites a reflection on the dark side of humanity, namely the dehumanizing and violent effects of war. Born in Damascus, Syria in 1986, Hamwe studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Damascus, where he specialized in oil and mural painting.  He has participated in exhibitions in Damascus, Beirut, Dubai, London, Canada, and the USA. He lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

Nizar Othman

Nizar Othman is a visual artist born in Lebanon and of Syrian descent. Outhman began his professional career working as a journalist and caricaturist, for which he was awarded the Bronze medal at the Guangxi international comics in 2007 (University city Guangxi); the “Excellence Award at e Competition of Guangxi international comics in 2007 (University city Guangxi) China; a Special Honorary Prize – Competition of the International Journal of Rhino (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in 2008.  His artistic process is influenced by his previous career in journalism, with several of his delicately painted portraits featuring men and women either wrapped in newspapers or using it as a prop.  Set against brightly colored backgrounds, with outlined bodies, Othman’s focus lies in the inscrutable facial expressions of his subjects. Othman held his first solo exhibition at the Russian Cultural Center, Beirut in 2010. Two years later he participated in a group exhibition Creative Artists 6 at the Arab Cultural Club in Beirut. Several of his works have been acquired by the Ministry of Culture in Lebanon, Ayyam gallery, and private collectors. 

Mohamad Khayata

Mohamad Khayata obtained his degree in Fine Arts from the Damascus university. Since moving to Lebanon in 2012, he has held three solo exhibitions at 392RMEIL393 in 2013, 2015, and 2017 and participated at the Beirut Art Fair in 2017. His paintings feature black and white portraits of women who are clothed or covered by patchwork material (‘madeh’ in Arabic) – a motif that alludes to the fragmentation and exile of the Syrian people today.  His photographic series Stitching my Syria Back (2014 – present) aims to document the Syrian community he met in Lebanon, in which the recorded image becomes an attempt to reconcile their displacement. These photographs were installed on ten buildings across Leicester city in the United Kingdom, for the Look Up project, part of the Journeys Festival International 2016.  Khayata has also participated in numerous group exhibitions across Europe and the Middle East, including Syrian Art: of Today, organized by VC and Oxfam in London, and The Third Space, organized by the British Council in London and Brussels. Khayata won two grants from AFAQ and ETTIJAHAT for his upcoming project To Be Continued, launching in 2018. 

Walaa Dakak

Walaa Dakak was born in 1978 in Damascus, Syria. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Damascus and later studied Contemporary Art and New Media at the Université Paris.   His minimalist yet cautious figures, marked by their vague – at times overlapping – silhouettes and featureless faces except for wide-set eyes that stare out anxiously and suspiciously at the viewer, attest to the psychological depth captured in his works. Using bold primary colors that act as a background to his black and white figures ­– oftentimes using only monochromatic tones ­– Dakak’s simple yet effective painterly style is easily distinguishable. His installation work Paranoia Eye and I was included in the exhibition Syrie: Cris – Action (2014) at the Institute du Monde Arabe, He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Paris in Art and Sciences focusing on aesthetic art.

Bahram Hajo

Bahram Hajo was born in Syria in 1952.  He studied at the Fine Arts Academy, Dusseldorf, and later graduated from the Kunstakademie Münster, Germany in 1984.  His figurative paintings invite a reflection on solitude and isolation: lonely faces cautiously stare out at the viewer; elsewhere, figures turn their backs defensively away from the viewer. The transience of emotion is further captured in the splashes of bold color that punctuate an otherwise subtle and sparse canvas.  Hajo has participated in numerous exhibitions, including Museum Krakau in Poland, Green Art Gallery Dubai, Karim Gallery in Amman, and more recently, Galerie GNG in Paris. He lives and works in Germany.

Gylan Safadi 

Gylan Safadi was born in Al-Sweida, Syria in 1977 and studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Damascus. Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, Safadi has shifted from his usual use of vivid colors to painting tonal works in black and white that are inspired by his memories of life prior to the instability and destruction afflicting his country.  Safadi believes that by abandoning color and focusing on the emotional dimensions of his subjects, his works better reflect the socio-political realities and traumas faced by his people that he seeks to capture in his canvases.  In addition to participating in exhibitions in Beirut, Syria, and Paris, Safadi has contributed to artistic life in his hometown of Al-Sweida, founding the Kameh Institute in 2008, which is committed to teaching theatre and arts to children. The artist currently lives and works in Lebanon.

Nihad Al Turk’s

Born in Aleppo in 1972, self-taught artist Nihad Al Turk’s work focuses on the existential crisis of the individual caught up in power struggles between good and evil. Based in Beirut, Al Turk situates his work against a backdrop of literature and philosophy, painting a recurrent cast of mythical demons, outcasts, and antiheroes.  Concerned with capturing the psychological dimensions of the self, his works have been read as allegorical self-portraits that explore existential questions that grapple with notions of good and evil and the position of man therein. Speaking of Turk’s expressive mixed-media works Maymanah Farhat states: ‘Although his art frequently possesses autobiographical details, his subject matter is not specifically Syrian. Nor does it refer to that which is presumed to be exclusive to the Arab experience.’  The artist has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions including Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice (2015); Ayyam Gallery Al Quoz, Dubai (2014); Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai (2014); Ayyam Gallery London (2014); Ayyam Gallery Beirut (2015, 2014, 2011); Ayyam Gallery Damascus (2009); the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Damascus (2009); Park Avenue Armory, New York (2008); Mark Hachem Gallery, New York (2008); and the Latakia Biennale (2003), where he was awarded the Golden Prize.

Alaa Sharabi

Alaa Sharabi was born in Damascus in 1988 and studied printmaking at the University of Damascus where he was later appointed as an assistant professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts. His bold paintings combine rich palettes with frenetic lines and complex compositions. Tangled and twisted, at times almost cubist, his figures and animals convey a sense of chaotic confusion, offset by Sharabi’s joyous, playful choice of colors.  His unique perspective imbues the canvas with rapturous energy that emphasizes the gestural abstractions of the artistic process. Sharabi has participated in numerous exhibitions in his native Syria, as well as internationally, including the Beirut Contemporary Art Fair in Beirut in 2013; the Contemporary Global Art Fair exhibition with Samer Kozah Gallery in Beirut in 2014;  and a group exhibition in Fabriano, Itay in 2014.  In 2013, he was awarded the 1st prize at the 8th Annual Youth Exhibition. The artist continues to live and works in Damascus.  

Houman Al Sayed

Houman Al Sayed is best known for his large-scale paintings that depict alienated, shock-ridden subjects, whose disproportionately sized, swollen faces attest to their confusion and isolation.  As his subjects float above densely populated cities–undefined, but characteristic of many Middle Eastern cities– they appear helpless. The entrapment portrayed in Al Sayed’s paintings is not specific to the Syrian context in which he was raised but is symptomatic of the widespread social oppression throughout the region. In the artist’s words, ‘What I am trying to show through my work is not confined to our current situation. This is about what has happened to us over many hundreds of years.’  Al-Sayed was born in Masyaf, Syria in 1981, a small city in northwestern Syria, and at the age of seventeen, he held his first exhibition in the port city of Latakia, 90 kilometers from his hometown. He graduated from the Sculpture Department of the Institute of Applied Arts in Damascus in 2003 and later moved to Beirut where he lives and works.