Challenging notions of beauty and ugliness, Sabhan Adam paints portraits of misshapen creatures often clothed in glamourous attire against plain backgrounds. While distorted and monstrous, the figures hold a complex set of emotions based on Adam’s own psychology. He states: "The figures I paint have so many things in common with me – they look like me, they have the same head and the same Asian eyes as me. I draw myself with everything that exists inside ¬– the sadness, the misery, the shocking things I have faced, the isolation, and the feeling of not belonging to this world.”

Born in Hassaka, Sabhan Adam (1972) is a self-taught artist who creates works in relative isolation from the art world. A prolific artist, he has built up his career in both traditional and independent ways through exhibiting with galleries but also independently marketing and self-funding work and publications. 

Reflecting his outsider artist temperament, Sabhan says that his work is ultimately influenced by his experiences and that “knowledge comes from the truth, not through being influenced by someone’s work.” He emphasises that his human creations are attached to the “pain, fear and phobia which our society constantly suffers from.” Ruminating on his own suffering, he writes: “I like people and I love nature but when there is so much pain inside of you and around you it’s impossible to draw just birds and flowers.”

Adam has exhibited at institutions such as the Uffizi Gallery, the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris and the Venice Biennale. His work has been acquired by the British Museum, Jalanbo Collection, Barjeel Art Foundation, and is in many private collections.