That, which is considered an artistic action or rebellion against the system in a state of general resignation, is seen in a different kind of environment as the documentation of a place, of an existence shattered before our very eyes, stripping us of the possibility of choice. The only choice left is life or death, whereby surviving inevitably implies migration, departure, a retreat caused by politics, by way of military intervention, i.e. by war, which has devastated places, homes, and people; with little space left for allegory, it becomes all the more bitter, when it uses symbols of popular culture and communicates through global iconography.
Tammam Azzam (b. 1980, Damascus, Syria) graduated in oil painting from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Damascus. Alongside a successful career as a painter in Syria, Azzam was also a prolific graphic designer.
The initial phase of Azzam’s work was distinguished by a ‘hybrid form’ of painting with applications of various media that allowed him to arrive at tactile interactions between surface and form that multiply as compositions evolve. These semi-abstract works use unconventional materials such as rope, clothespins, and other found objects in order to accentuate the depth, texture, and space of laboured picture planes, creating a visible tension. Although outwardly different in appearance, the series that resulted from these early experiments were inspired by the artist’s changing perceptions of specific urban environments.
Following the start of the uprising in Syria, Azzam turned to digital media and graphic art to create visual composites of the conflict that resonated with international viewers. These widely distributed works are informed by his interest in the interventionist potential of digital photography and street art as powerful and direct forms of protest that are difficult to suppress. In early 2013, Azzam made worldwide headlines when his Freedom Graffiti print went viral on social media.
Azzam has contributed to large-scale international exhibitions such as the FUU-Street Art Festival, Sarajevo (2015); Vancouver Biennale, where he was in residence (2014); FotoFest Biennial (2014), Houston; Dak’Art: Biennial of Contemporary African Art, Dakar (2014); Alexandria Biennale (2014); and the 30th Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana (2013).
In recent years, Azzam has participated in solo and group exhibitions at such venues as Künstlerforum Bonn, Bonn (2017); For-Site Foundation, San Francisco (2017, 2016); European Capital of Culture-Pafos, Pafos (2017); City Museum of Odenburg, Oldenburg (2017); Künstlerverein Walkmühle, Wiesbaden (2016); Columbia University, New York (2016); Tainiothiki Twixtlab, Athens (2016); Ayyam Gallery - 11 Alserkal Avenue, Dubai (2016); Banksy’s Dismaland, Weston-super-Mare (2015); Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice (2015); Framer Framed in de Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam (2015); Forum Factory, Berlin (2014); Lena & Roselli Gallery, Budapest (2014); Liquid Art House, Boston (2014); Rush Arts, New York (2014); Busan Museum of Art, Seoul (2014); 1x1 Art Gallery, New Delhi (2014).
In 2016, Azzam received an artist fellowship at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study in Delmonhost, Germany.
Tammam Azzam (SY), Bon Voyage
Thursday, 9 November 2017 – Shelters of Babylon exhibition opening
The exhibition in artKIT will be showing until 13 January 2018.
artKIT Gallery, Glavni trg 14, Maribor
Tue–Fri 10 a. m.–1 p. m. and 5 p. m.–7 p. m., Sat 10 a. m.–1 p. m.
ACE KIBLA is co-funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, the Municipality of Maribor. Project RISK CHANGE (2016–2020) is co-funded by the Creative Europe Program of the European Union.