There is no war in Syria. There is a revolution.
Art cannot save the country. Nothing can save Syria except for the revolution. All art can do is to nourish hope for a different future. After three years in which the world hasn’t done anything for Syria, every Syrian feels abandoned. Ours is a deep, desperate loneliness.
I have been drawing for twenty years but I began working with digital art only two years ago when I was forced to escape with my family and I lost my studio in Damascus. I needed new ways to express my devastation in watching tragic events unfold all over the country. My laptop became my tiny portable studio, my form of protest.
Today the definition of a work of art has become much more flexible, but to me art is only art when it inspires critical thinking and in the process it becomes a testimony of history. In The Syrian Museum series I have created works around iconic subjects by European masters such as da Vinci, Matisse, and Goya. I juxtaposed these great achievements of humanity to the destruction around me; I brought them into the context of war.
In Bon Voyage, I highlighted the fragility of political structures in the wake of revolution: brightly colored balloons carry war-torn buildings lifted straight from the streets of Damascus high above some of the world’s best-known political headquarters and landmarks. Hope beyond horror.
I cannot change history but I can make art. I do not have power, nor do I want it. But I still believe in all those people in the streets claiming their freedom. My work does not want to be a political poster, it is just my way to be out there with them.
Born in Damascus in 1980, Tammam Azzam lives and works in Dubai. Selected solo and group exhibitions include Ayyam Gallery London (2013); the 30th Biennal of Graphic Arts, Slovenia (2013); Ayyam Gallery Al Quoz, Dubai (2012, 2009); Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai (2011); Ayyam Gallery Beirut (2010); Ayyam Gallery Damascus (2010).