Last month’s retrospective at the Ayyam Art Center in Dubai displayed the work of a sensitive contemporary artist forced to flee Syria a year ago and now resident in Dubai.
‘Syria’, Tammam Azzam’s solo exhibition of new digital and installation art has been on show until last month at the Ayyam Art Center in Dubai. Born in Damascus in 1982, Tammam was forced to flee Syria, as he was afraid of being called up for reservist duty in the army. He now lives and works in Dubai and as been featured in several significant events including group shows in Miami, Basel, Beirut and solo exhibitions at Ayyam Gallery, Damascus in 2010 and Dubai in 2011.
Exhibited exactly one year from the start of the series and curated by Syrian artist Safwan Dahoul, the works are divided into a different series for each room, all displaying a feeling of belonging to his country and a nostalgia for the territory and the once-peaceful life there.
More than 41,000 people have been killed since protests against President Bashar Al Assad’s regime, and Tammam’s work doesn’t spare criticism of the international community and it’s failure to intervene and to stop the bloodshed: one work shows a map in red hit by a bullet laying over a United Nation logo.
Digital works represent particular events of the uprising, each displaying destruction and violence, like in the big map of Syria painted in red symbolising blood hanging on the wall. In an interview, Tammam explains how the map regained meaning to him since the beginning of the uprising giving him a symbol through which to examine the conflict.
The floor upstairs, also by the artists, is entitled “The Syrian Museum” and displays famous paintings like the Mona Lisa (Leonardo Da Vinci), the Scream (Munch), “The Third of May 1808” (Goya) along photographs of a devastated Syria, to denounce once again that “Syria is living The Third of May every day and no one stops it”, and also confronting the highest point that humanity can reach against the lowest, darkest ones.
Other works are street art, like the “Kiss” by Klimt standing on the remains of a building hit by bombs and bullets,
or big paintings that represent laundry – sometimes with real laundry hanging on the canvas.
For Tammam, laundry represents “the memories one leaves behind”. Another work, Syrian Pawns’, represents a chess game and pawns stained with “blood”, clearly stating the use of people as pawns by the political powers.
And a bar code, terrifying in its simplicity, that as a code has the number of the victims so far.
We are sure to hear again about his work: a new way of interpreting brutal concepts through digital and using it to denounce, with urgency, as a Syrian, is a way of raising awareness that has been so far unexplored.