Edition 1
Jan/Feb/March 2019

Jasmine, Another Syria
Quarterly magazine

During those troubled times, it seemed to us essential to offer another vision of Syria through its culture and the artistic creation of its artists.

Jasmine, Another Syria was born from the meeting of people from different horizons and cultures: French, Franco-Syrians and Syrians wishing to show their solidarity with Syria and its people.

The focus will be given on the artistic works of Syrian artists, the history of Syria (and its links with France), its literature and poetry, its cultural diversity and wealth.

Jasmine, Another Syria is meant to build a bridge between two languages, two cultures, two worlds.

This magazine with independent and non-profit funding will be published on a quarterly basis online on our Website syriaartasso.com, and annually as a print edition. It will be edited partially in French and in English languages.

Artist Houmam Al Sayed lightens the burden of silence

The work of visual artist Houmam Al Sayed, an artist much appreciated by the art world, denounces the burden of a deafening silence that tears humanity, thus placing his work at the heart of today’s preoccupations.

At first glance, it is the width of the heads, or even their disproportions that strike the viewer. On closer look, the central character haunting the work of the artist, Citizen Zero, looks like Houmam Al Sayed himself. His recurring character looks like Gavroche: beret screwed to the top of the skull, gangly silhouette, worn out clunkers and sad expression. A Misérable of modern times, in short!

Citizen Zero is Al Sayed’s alter ego, a form of allegory of his suffering. Like him, the Syrian artist left his country of origin and took the road to exile.

But behind Citizen Zero, a colorful sky leaves him immovable, silent and yet crisp. In most of Al Sayed’s work and even when the subject is accompanied by others, a palpable aloneness surrounds Citizen Zero. And if he were to come to life, explains Al Sayed, his brain would be anatomically compressed to the eighth of the size of an actual human brain.

It is in times of straining social contradictions when promises of liberation confront mechanisms of social repression that artists tend to resort to the expressive gesture registering a psychic disturbance on the body.

There is a worry in the eyes of those who cross his paintings. But there are also paper boats, like dreams of better days. Even surrounded by his fellows, solitude permeates the work of Al Sayed. Nevertheless, his work is not desperate. In the eyes of his characters remains a glimmer of hope that springs from their eyes.

Like Egon Schiele, Houmam Al Sayed chooses expressionism to illustrate the neuroses of men, exacerbated by the flaws of a contemporary world fed by injustice. The deformed characters express both oppression and tyranny. Al Sayed combines satire with social misery and malaise emanating from injustice to incisively illustrate his bizarre figures.

A great admirer of the Syrian poet Al-Maghout, Houmam Al Sayed pays tribute to him by borrowing his distinctive mark, his beret. The two artists do not only share this common point. Both fight for freedom and justice through a militant work.

Houmam Al Sayed (Born 1981 in Damascus, Syria) graduated from the Sculpture Department of the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus in 2003. He began exhibiting his work at a young age. In 1998 he participated in an exhibition of painting at Teshrin University in Lattakia while seventeen years old. Since then he has exhibited throughout Syria and has participated in group shows and symposiums in the Arab world and Europe.

Translation into English: Danii Kessjan