Assaad Zoukari once described his work as “giving a clear vision [of] folklore,” explaining that he studied the shapes and lines of previous generations of artists – including Arabesque styles and calligraphy – all of which inspired his geometric way of painting.
Born in Damascus, Assaad Zoukari (1930–2020) studied art in Alexandria at the studios of Egyptian artist Saif Wanli and Italian artist Ottorino Bicchi, where he drew from live models from 1952–53. This was accompanied by a civil engineering degree at the University of Alexandria in 1958. Zoukari’s artistic style was influenced by folk art and its aesthetics – a visual and literary heritage that tells stories about love, war and courage. With graphic forms and shapes, his paintings have linear borders that separate colours, bringing the composition together with a sense of fluidity.
Zoukari worked and held solo and group exhibitions for more than 50 years, playing an important role in the Syrian modernist movement. In 1956, his solo show at the National Museum of Damascus was a defining moment early in his career. In 2021, a retrospective book was published that celebrated his lengthy career with essays from key artists and critics.