Tammam Azzam

Syrian, 1980


Born in Damascus, Syria in 1980, Tammam Azzam received his artistic training from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Damascus. Alongside  a  successful  career  as  a  painter, he  was  a  prolific graphic designer in Syria, an experience that would inform his digital media work long after relocating to Dubai at the start of the country’s conflict.

Initially, his work was a ‘hybrid form’ of painting combined with the application of various media that allowed him to create tactile interactions between surface and form. For these semi-abstract works he used unconventional materials such as rope, clothespins, and other found objects in order to accentuate the depth, texture, and space of the picture planes. The series that resulted from these early experiments were inspired by the artist’s changing perceptions of his urban environment.

Following the start of the uprising in Syria, Azzam turned to digital media and graphic art to create visual composites of the conflict that resonated with international viewers. These widely distributed works showcase the interventionist potential of digital photography and street art as powerful and direct forms of protest that are difficult to suppress. Early 2013, the artist made worldwide headlines when his Freedom Graffiti print went viral on social media.

More recently, Azzam has returned to painting with Storeys, a series of monumental works on canvas that communicate the magnitude of devastation experienced across his native country. Expressionist compositions of destroyed cityscapes chronicle the current state of his homeland, delving into a cathartic exercise of reconstruction, storey by storey. Alongside these new paintings, the artist has produced a significant body of giclée prints and installations that depict the many facets of these cities.

Tammam Azzam has contributed to several large-scale international exhibitions such as the FUU-Street Art Festival, Sarajevo (2015); Vancouver Biennale, where he was in residence (2014); FotoFest Biennial, Houston (2014); Dak’Art: Biennial of Contemporary African Art, Dakar (2014); Alexandria Biennale (2014); and the 30th Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana (2013).

In recent years, Azzam has participated in solo and group exhibitions at numerous high-profile venues around the world. In 2016, Azzam received an artist fellowship at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study in Delmonhost.