The Sharjah-based Syrian painter talks vision, beauty and politics with Time Out.
What are you working on? I’ve been working on a project about silence. My figures cannot see. They have no eyes, no hands. I tried to make these figures more beautiful, but it’s a cover for nothing. When I paint, I work with my hands, I don’t use brushes.
Why do you paint your figures without eyes? Because there’s no vision in our country. It’s partly political, but there’s no authority or power to make one thing with any structure. There’s just no strategy.
How has coming here affected your work? I left Syria 25 years ago. To be an immigrant is very hard for me. When I’m painting I like to register this feeling. I was born in a place very important for the Phoenician civilisation, in Latakia in modern-day Syria, a city near where the first alphabets were believed to be founded. I feel like I have some responsibility to the place. When you are from a place so important to civilisation, every time you open books or walk into a library, you see your country. But I have a responsibility to look towards the future. This is the mission of art and of culture in general, not just for one man or artist or writer.