Houmam Al Sayed – Unique Mysterious Art
You may have never heard of Houmam Al Sayed, but once you see his paintings or sculptures, you will definitely remember both his name and his unique way of creating art. Houmam was born in Syria in 1981 and graduated from the Sculpture Department of the Damascus Institute of Applied Arts in 2003. He has become a well-known name in the Middle Eastern art and had his first exhibition at the age of 16. In 2012 he presented his work at a prestigious Lebanese art gallery in Beirut and in 2013 he had another exhibition in Paris. Also, he has taken part in several Art Fairs in Beirut, Paris, and Miami, USA, while his paintings have appeared in prestigious auction houses, such as Christie’s in Dubai and Sotheby’s in Doha, Qatar.
At first glance, the human forms in Houmam’s drawings and paintings seemed to me mysterious and ugly – some of them even repulsive. Their figures are short, fat, and completely bizarre. From a distance, you may think that they are all children, but at a closer look you realize that most of them are adults – weird, miserable-looking adults with their eyes hidden, or half hidden, under a characteristic beret or the traditional Arab head scarf. Where eyes are visible, they have a sad, lethargic or desperate expression. Looking at them I kept wondering if the meaning the artist wants to convey is that people avoid seeing what is going on around them, they see half or just one side of reality, or they look without seeing. In all of Houmam’s paintings there is a lack of movement as figures stand one next to the other like being robots, soldiers or prisoners strapped together with leather belts.
Looking at his paintings, I thought that even though Houmam is a young man, he must have come across a lot of misery in his life. Knowing that he was born in Syria, Middle Eastern violence, wars, unrest, insecurity, and obedience to family, state, or even religious laws must be permanent burdens on him. When I saw a photo of the artist, I found similarities between his face and his paintings. It’s like the artist keeps drawing ugly versions of his own really good-looking face. Just have a look at his self portrait painted in 2012!
I was especially impressed by one of his drawings which depicts a father who puts his hands over his children’s eyes as if he’s trying to prevent them from seeing either the misery all around them or another kind of reality. In another, a woman is wrapped up just like an ancient Egyptian mummy that cannot move, breathe, or have any freedom at all. An “eloquent” comment on women’s rights in the Arab world? Who knows?
In drawings, the colors on the head scarves attract your full attention to the sad expressions of the faces, but most often clothes are also painted in bright colors that create a stark contrast between the expressionless, motionless figures and how they could be if they could live a normal life without restrictions by being more open to individual freedoms.
His sculptures are equally strange. They are the same short men with flat heads, ugly, huge, fat noses that take up most of the face, downturned mouths, and expressionless eyes. Looking at them, the first thing that came to my mind was the Moai – the Easter Island statues.
Whether you like of hate Houmam’s paintings and sculptures, one thing is certain. He is one of his kind and through his art and its symbolism, he manages to evoke sentiments, and stimulate thoughts and ideas.
I think that we should contact the artist for an exhibition in Erbil. It is more than certain that it will be a huge success as Kurds are especially interested in such meaningful forms of art.
If you are interested in seeing more of his paintings, drawings, and sculptures, you can visit his website: http://houmam.me or his page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/houmamalsayed. You can also order one or more paintings by calling Houmam on +961 70 862 628 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org