Influenced by his memories of Syria, artist, theorist and critic Asaad Arabi has developed his painting style to depict cityscapes, rhythms, and sensual body expressions of his characters. Oscillating between representation and abstraction – and sometimes bridging them together – the colour fields and forms that make up his canvases have a lyrical quality to them. In fact, music has a recurring role in his work, for the artist has always felt “that there is an association between music and form”. “When I listen to music, I can imagine certain forms taking shape, and when I look at the city, I can feel the musicality in it.” Arabi explains that his sense of intense colour and distinctive brushstrokes are related to musical rhythm and that his forms develop as a combination of sight and sound.

Born in Damascus, Asaad Arabi (1941) graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Damascus University before moving to Paris, France in 1975, where he received a diploma in painting from the Higher Institute of Fine Arts, and subsequently earned a PhD in Aesthetics from the Sorbonne University. 

In different series throughout his lengthy career, Arabi has skilfully used composition and colour in harmony, creating unity between all the different aspects of his work. In the defined colour blocks of his abstract works, viewers gradually discern figures, architectural forms and patterns, while in his figurative works, bodies are painted in hues that merge with their environments.

Arabi’s works are housed in public and private collections such as Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; the Barcelona Contemporary Museum of Art; the National Museum, New Delhi; the National Museum of Korea, Seoul; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Yale University Art Gallery, US; and Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah.