Syrian cartoonist Juan Zero was born in Damascus in 1976. He graduated from Adham Ismail Art Institute in 2003. His work has been exhibited in Damascus, Beirut, Cairo, Barcelona and Rome. He has worked with several magazines in Syria and the Arabian Gulf and has won several awards from Korea, Iran, Bulgaria, Italy, Russia, the Netherlands, Ireland and Brazil. Zero gained popularity on the social networking site Facebook in early 2012, and he was able to draw attention to his paintings. Zero was one of the first young Syrian cartoonists to surface during the revolution.
The most distinguished aspect of Zero’s work is his connection with the Syrian street. His paintings transform the voice of the people into powerful imagery.
At the beginning of the revolution, Zero focused his criticism on the Syrian regime, represented by President Bashar al-Assad, and its brutality against the population. As the power of the Syrian opposition, and its problems, grew, Zero used his work to criticize the opposition and the role of some Syrian intellectuals. He has also criticized "revolution tourists," who cross the Syrian border merely to take pictures to share on social media platforms, in an attempt to gain fame.
Through his drawings, Zero has documented the daily events of the Syrian uprising and its evolution.
Zero has participated in several campaigns, including one launched by activists after female activist Rima Dali stood in front of the Syrian Parliament in Damascus and raised a banner that said, "Stop the killing. We want to build a homeland for all Syrians.” He was arrested right after that campaign. Zero also participated in the "Freedom for the Freedom of Expression" campaign launched by activists on the Internet. This campaign called on people to share names of detainees they know by taking pictures of themselves while carrying banners with the names of the detainees.
Zero posts his works on a number of websites, including Dawlati (My Country) and Basma Suriya (Syrian Smile).
He is currently working on a project called Yasmin Baladi (My Country’s Jasmine) Studio, through which he aims to equip a Syrian refugee camp with all tools required for communication with children at the camp. The project “aims to clean the color of blood from the eyes of children, ease the voice of war in their minds, and try to activate their childhood once again through daily activities, such as drawing, music, sport, theater, communication with other children via the internet, organizing interactive workshops, and other entertainment and educational means.” The six-month project will soon be launched at the Bab al-Salama Refugee Camp in northern Syria. It will include 1,296 children between the ages of 6 and 13.
To visit Juan Zero’s Facebook page, click here.