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Navigating Identity, Resilience, and Dreams Through Art

Syrian Artists’ Perspectives

By Aya Nassar

In the midst of geopolitical turmoil and cultural shifts, and in the heart of the Syrian diaspora,  Syrian artists have emerged as powerful storytellers, using their work to navigate the complexities of identity, war, and societal shifts. These visionaries navigate the complexities of their homeland and the broader human experience. From Paris to Damascus and all over the globe, they employ various mediums to convey narratives that transcend borders. 

The following artists, scattered across the globe, use their creative prowess to give birth to tales and artworks that bridge the personal and political, offering an extensive view of a multifaceted reality.

Let's delve into the diverse world of six Syrian artists, each leaving their mark on the global art scene.

Khaled Takreti

Born in Beirut in 1964, Khaled Takreti stands as a luminary in Syrian art. Trained as an architect at the University of Damascus, Takreti introduced a painting style without precedent in Syria. His innovative approach to portraiture merges personal narratives with explorations of the modern social image. Based in Paris since 2006, Takreti's large-scale compositions, recognized for their psychological depth, are housed in museums globally. His recent art is inspired by personal connections and questions the idea of creation while chaos unfolds in his home country. In his latest works, Takreti shifts focus to make a global statement, exploring stereotypes in modern consumer societies. Through satire, he connects Syria, the global community, and his own experiences, portraying a life on the brink of disaster.

Ayham Jabr 

A Damascus native, Ayham Jabr masterfully blends the realms of war and science fiction in his thought-provoking collages. Depicting besieged cities and Martian invasions, Jabr's work explores human ignorance, greed, and the pursuit of power. His series, "Damascus Under Siege," features spaceships besieging the city, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. His surreal collages serve as a powerful commentary on the impact of war and societal challenges, offering a visual exploration of the impact of conflict on the human psyche and inviting viewers to contemplate the intersections of fiction and reality.

Saint Hoax

Behind the pseudonym Saint Hoax is a Syrian artist employing satire and art to engage with socio-political issues. Best known for the "Happy Never After" campaign, Saint Hoax used Disney princesses to address domestic violence, sparking a viral movement. Disney princesses aren’t the only figures he uses, though, as the artist often depicts well-known political and popular figures out of context or mixed with worlds that they don’t usually meet. Through solo exhibitions and a strong online presence, this satirist challenges societal norms with humor, prompting viewers to question and critique prevailing narratives

Mohamad Khayata

Born in Damascus in 1985, Mohamad Khayata's art serves as a tribute to displaced Syrians, exploring themes of migration, memory, and identity. His works examine the relationship of displaced Syrians with the political and societal environment, capturing the vulnerability and resilience of his subjects. His desire to stitch Syria back together is reflected in the ongoing metaphorical theme of much of his work. Participating in exhibitions worldwide, Khayata's work is a visual journey through the lives of those affected by the Syrian conflict.

Safwan Dahoul

Renowned for his dream series, Safwan Dahoul's paintings blend melancholy and monochrome aesthetics. Born in 1961 in Hama, Syria, Dahoul's works explore the subconscious sense of enclosure during times of crisis. His recurring protagonist, depicted in ambiguous settings and often with an intense gaze, allows for an emotional experience of mourning, estrangement, or political conflict. With a career spanning three decades, Dahoul's paintings act as a crucial link between modern and contemporary Arab art, capturing the essence of the ever-changing region.