Syrian artists have been on the forefront in composing artworks that effectively address social and political issues affected their country. These notable artists include Safwan Dahoul, Tammam Azzam, Kais Salman and Saad Yagan. Significantly, Safwan Dahoul is among the notable artists who have consistently demonstrated the contemporary life using figurative images to depict the terrains of Syria. He underwent training from recognized modernist artists at the Faculty of Fine Art in University of Damascus. In the span of his career, Dahoul has significantly mentored and trained other artists by showing them the right direction in painting. Based on his experience as an artist, Dahoul has provided a link between modern and contemporary art through his famous Dream series artworks. The series of art has demonstrated both physical and psychological effects of separation, loneliness and longing. Formally, Dahoul integrates the use of design elements and principles to render art that appropriately communicate to the audience and address certain issues that they go through. Elements such as dark shadows, black color, thick lines, balance and contrast has been instrumental in most of his works that addresses human suffering in times of crisis. This crisis can take the form of mourning, wailing, estrangement or even political violence. To achieve his mission, Dahoul uses a female protagonist figure with contorted body figure, vacant eyes and minimized physicality to render messages. Dream 61 painting by Dahoul portrays a state of sadness. In this piece, the artist uses repetition as a design principle to explore everyday life activities. This artwork depicts what people go through in Syria as a result of endless wars. People are mourning, wailing, estranged as a result of getting killed every day. Repetition is magnified in this art with unity achieved to make to distinct as the light gradually changes. The work has been lauded by many artists who decipher the art to depict the two sides of war and violence. From the art, it is clear that there is a dark and light side. The dark side represents suffering, death and loneliness while the white side depicts peace. Dahoul aspires to bring joy through art by demonstrating that it is possible to end war in Syria.
Tammam Azzam is a Damascus born artist with years of experience in art composition. His artistic training was received from the Faculty of Fine art, University of Damascus. His concentration is on oil painting on canvas. Further, he is also a prolific graphic designer with extensive knowledge on digital media. His initial stint of artistic career was characterized by a blend of painting with the use of myriad media forms to render tactile interactions of surface painting and form responsible for the evolution of art. He borrows a lot from Abstract artists and movement because of his ability to use unconventional objects such as ropes and clothespins among others objects. Using unconventional design materials allows him to achieve principles of depth, texture, effective use of space to create a visual tension and appeals that distinctively attract the attention of audience. Most of his artworks are anchored on changing perception of urban environmental settings. A Kiss For The Whole World is a blend of painting and digital media. This art communicates the theme of conflict that echo with international audience. In other words, he tries to communicate to other people across the world on the issues of suffering and destruction that Syria is going through. According to other visual artists, Azzam’s blend of painting and digital media promotes photography and street art that is a powerful tool for protesting and criticizing the level of violence and intolerance in Syria. For the record, this medium is hard to suppress. A Kiss For The Whole World is oil on canvas where the artist has used uncontrolled paint brushes with multi color to depict the magnitude of destruction and devastation experienced across cities in Syria. He authoritatively depicts destroyed city landscapes, providing a step by step chronology of destruction and reconstruction. The face of cities is depicted through similar themes by effectively using space, contrast and repetition design elements. Fundamentally, the artist has used an idealized vision of love to portray the pain and suffering that is currently experienced in his country. Magnificently, by erecting this passionate painting on walls in Syria, the artist achieves one of the functions of art as he tries to touch international hearts that are fine with the suffering experienced in Syria.
Kais Salman is another artist born in Syria who uses satire to render artworks addressing greed and extremism that is bedeviling societies today. Salman is considered one of most successful artists who have composed art geared towards addressing powerful societal issues. He is the one among the most accomplished painters in Arab world. In view of other artists, Salman has sought to address issuing to deal with psychological violence that has considerably been normalized and rationalized in societies. Distinctively, through art, Salman has managed to unearth the ugly world that has been accentuated with color and anesthetic forms. Further, he has been able to condemn political violence, corruption, terrorism, religious conflicts and imperialisms through art. Just like other artists, Salman received his artistic knowledge and education from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Damascus. His major work Cities is considered by many as the epitome of abstract art. However, in this art, he manages to use adventurous figurations and slightly diverts from other works that were based on abstraction. In this artwork, Salman has collated pieces bundled with energy to emphasize on the central theme pursued by the artist. Cities is a piece of work with figures painted on top of one another, and rises as massive tower blocks synonymous to cities. According to the artist, this artwork is an alternated reality in which different characters combine to give in a uniform world described as a city. This masterpiece has been inspired by the influence media has on society, because literally media controls everything, especially the people. The objects that Salman integrates from this composition are derived from the media before using his own style to document them on canvas. His view has only been to return the objects to abstract so that the audiences are left to decipher and interpret them based on their own perceptions. The artist uses different colors to distinct the major objects making up the composition. For instance, there are some objects playing musical instruments, others riding bicycles and some sitting and chatting with their friends. There are a lot of people doing different activities. These are then combined to give the city a meaning as portrayed in the media and perceived by the audience and consumers of such messages.
Dream 61, Safwan Dahoul.
A Kiss For The Whole World, Tammam Azzam.
Cities, Kais Salman.