As an artist in exile, Tammam Azzam has seen much destruction solely through online photographs, including bombed out buildings that have been gutted to the core. “The emptiness made me feel so much fear,” he says. “I want to talk about that.”
Born in Damascus, Tammam Azzam (1980) graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Department of Painting, in Damascus, in 2001. He also participated in numerous training workshops, supervised by prominent painters, notably the late German-Syrian artist Marwan, who became a huge influence in his career.
Initially working in mixed media, Azzam found himself looking for new ways to create art and express his feelings about the loss of his home country. He began to focus on the depth and tragedy of the destroyed cityscape that used to be home to so many people. His Syrian Museum series of work went viral when he used graphic design as a tool with which to overlay photos of destroyed buildings with European master paintings, such as Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. Using acrylic, collage or mixed media, Azzam has also created works depicting the skeletons of buildings, showing their monumental destruction.
Tammam Azzam has contributed to international exhibitions such as the FUU-Street Art Festival, Sarajevo; Vancouver Biennale, where he was artist-in-residence; FotoFest Biennial, Houston; Dak’Art: Biennial of Contemporary African Art, Dakar; Alexandria Biennale; and the 30th Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana; Museen in Sudtirol in Tirol, Italy; Haines Gallery, San Francisco; Ayyam Gallery, Dubai; Kornfeld Galerie, Berlin; Bienal del Sur, Caracas; Künstlerforum Bonn; For-Site Foundation, San Francisco; European Capital of Culture-Pafos; City Museum of Odenburg; Columbia University, New York; Tainiothiki Twixtlab, Athens; Banksy’s Dismaland, Weston-super-Mare; Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice; Framer Framed in de Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam; Forum Factory, Berlin; Lena & Roselli Gallery, Budapest; Liquid Art House, Boston; Busan Museum of Art, Seoul and 1x1 Art Gallery, New Delhi.