Though widely known for the digital art he created after losing his studio and fleeing Syria, Tammam Azzam originally trained as a painter in Damascus. Now based in the United Arab Emirates, he returns to his roots for a series of paintings that convey the magnitude of devastation in his homeland. He bases his paintings on news photographs of Syrian cities but eliminates visual clues that might identify their locations and restrict the works’ impact. The resulting images could depict any world city in the aftermath of war; installing them in a former military command building underscores the human cost of weaponry. The viewer stands at the beginning of a refugee’s road: no fixed destination and countless obstacles. Azzam describes the process of creating his paintings as a physical and emotional struggle. “Bullets are more powerful than art now,” he says, but he believes art can help rebuild the future.
- Installation Views
Tammam Azzam works deftly in a broad array of media, from painting and printmaking to digital photography and street art. Based in Dubai, he has participated in exhibitions and biennials around the world, and received international attention for his viral Freedom Graffiti, part of a series of photographs recasting Western masterworks amid Syrian ruins.