Attached to the earth of Syria, artist Nizar Sabour uses natural materials to create his paintings. “I was very marked by my childhood memories,” he explains. “They are all linked to the earth. I often went for a walk in the forest. I remember the smell of burnt wood from the barbecue. My visual and taste memory wakes up in this way.”

Born in Latakia, Nizar Sabour (1958) graduated from the Fine Arts Faculty, Damascus University, and obtained a PhD in Art Philosophy from the Strugunov Academy of Industrial & Applied Arts, Moscow, Russia.

Influenced by the gamut of ancient history to present day realities of the region, Sabour’s works are reflections of numerous themes rendered in a subtle way. From the legend of Gilgamesh to religious iconography and miniatures, his work references different belief systems and ways of living in society. Present tragedies also appear, such as the invasion of Iraq, the Palestinian Intifada and the destruction of Syrian historical and religious sites like Maaloula, Palmyra and Qalamoun.

The flatness in his cityscapes and narrative scenes often appears archaic, like old manuscripts. This historic style is also seen in some select paintings in diptych and triptych forms, in which he uses wood rather than canvas. His minimal palette is created in part from the natural materials that he makes himself and utilises as paint – including burnt olive pits to make a black pigment – giving a tactile experience to his work.

Nizar Sabour’s work is in public and private collections all over the world including the National Museum and the People's Palace, Damascus; National Museum of Jordan; Bahrain National Museum; Sharjah Art Museum and the Museum of Eastern Peoples Arts, Moscow.