Considered one of the pioneers of Impressionism in Syria, Michael Kurche painted landscapes, Damascene neighbourhoods, faces and figures. Sometimes depicting socio-political issues, like the Suez war or Bedouin life, he commented: "I cannot draw or depict hunger without suffering... What comes out of the heart inevitably penetrates into the heart… The artist's feelings are reflected in his production... so he becomes an impression."
Born in Damascus, Michael Kurche (1900–1973) graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and participated in a number of exhibitions with his French peers. In 1925, Kurche returned to Damascus and taught at high schools until his retirement in 1949. One of his most well-known students, Elias Zayyat, described Kurche as “revolutionary in relation to what preceded him in Damascus.” Working swiftly and full of emotion, Kurche would sometimes complete a painting in a few minutes, capturing the essence of a moment. Using watercolours or oil, he adopted bright and cool hues to depict the effect of sunlight on subjects.
Contributing to the establishment of artistic associations in the 1940s, Kurche continued to paint and exhibit until his death in 1973. His works have been acquired by institutions in Damascus including the Syrian Ministry of Culture, The National Museum, Republican Palace, The Hospitality Palace and the Arab Scientific Complex. A prolific artist, he is credited with completing over 1,000 paintings in his lifetime which can be found in private collections in Syria, Lebanon, Europe and the US.