Basharat Bashir

Artist and Artwork: Houmam Al Sayed

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Houmam Al Sayed is a Syrian contemporary painter and sculptor born in 1981 in Damascus, Syria. After studying sculpture, Al Sayed oriented his work to large-scale figurative paintings. Houmam Al Sayed graduated from the Sculpture Department of the Institute of Applied Arts in Damascus in 2003. He began exhibiting his work at a young age. In 1998 he participated in an exhibition of painting at Teshrin University in Lattakia while he was seventeen years old. Since then, he has exhibited throughout Syria and has participated in group shows and Symposiums in the Arab world and Europe.

Al Sayed works across various media, including painting, drawing, and sculpture.  His artworks are described as playful renderings and recreations of his memories characterized by one figure – a stooped male man with a distorted face, bulbous nose, and wide-set eyes arrayed beneath a ubiquitous cloth cap.

The figures in al-Sayed’s paintings, drawings and sculptures are swollen and misshapen. The crumpled and crushed characters symbolize the widespread public oppression throughout the Middle East, from military rule in Egypt to war-torn Iraq and Syria. As critic Edward Shalda says on the artist’s website, ‘Houmam paints unknown people belonging to a known reality.’

Art critic Marie Tomb, in one of al-Sayed’s exhibitions catalog, wrote: “In Houmam al-Sayed’s paintings, it is neither a man, nor an ideology, but a nameless and faceless structure whose countless metamorphoses reemerge anywhere they find detractors to silence and abuse citizens.” She continues: “His characters propose a version of what one might be reduced to when the pressure of religion, the state, and ideology is too much to bear.”

Al Sayed’s work has been shown in various solo and group expositions, in 2011 his work was shown at Showcase Gallery, Dubai followed by White Box Projects,New York and Mark Hachem Gallery, Paris in 2013. His work was also exhibited at Mark Hachem Gallery, Beirut and at BOX Freiraum, Berlin in 2014. Al Sayed’s work was shown at Agial Art Gallery Beirut in 2016 followed by Atasi Foundation, Dubai as well as British Museum, London in 2017.

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