“No artist is more loyal to his individuality, his feelings, his agony, his tears, and his joy like Nazir Ismail.” writes art critic Joseph Tarrab about Ismail’s expressive works.

Born in Damascus, Nazir Ismail (1948–2016) was self-taught, discovering art at early age from the famous folk artist Abu Subhi Al Tinawi, whose studio was close to his grandfather’s house.

In the 1960s, when Ismail began his practice, he moved to Beirut and held his first exhibition. From its dismal reviews, he began new experimentations and finally settled on his distinctive form of expressionism. In the beginning, he focused on rural mud houses, depicting their simplicity of shape and life. Evolving over time from the houses to elongated figures and faces, his work used distinctive geometric and stylised forms: expressive elements in the brushwork, colours and faces of the figures create an emotive quality, with his canvases full of symbols. Frequently using an earthy palette of colours, Ismail’s work displays themes of confusion, anxiety and loss. 

Ismail held over 50 solo exhibitions in cities such as Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, Beirut, Amman, Cairo, Dubai, Paris, Poitiers, Sharjah, Doha, Geneva and Vienna. He won awards at the Sharjah Biennale and The Antrgravek Award in Berlin.