Muhammad al-Weis

16 February 2014

Muhammad al-Weis is a young artist who graduated from the faculty of fine arts in Aleppo and left Syria shortly after the outbreak of the Syrian uprising to obtain his master's degree from the University of Cairo. Born and raised in the city of Aleppo, the 26-year-old artist uses digital art to draw attention to the tragic circumstances of Syria in general and Aleppo in particular. “I was forced to flee the city I love. Yet, its every detail remains vivid in my memory, Aleppo is my passion, my eternal muse,” he reflects, in an interview with Syria Untold.

The artist had decided to pursue his academic career by moving to Egypt and away from civil activism in Syria, which is why he refers to his first Syrian-related paintings as a “mere coincidence.” But, "when Aleppo turned into a battlefield in the fall of 2012, scenes from the city was all over the news. Suddenly, I found myself trying to recapture the names and images of its streets in one painting that reminds all those who consider Aleppo a dwelling for their dreams and memories that war will never wrench its beauty,” he adds.

Instead of wasting his days staring at a Facebook screen for news, al-Weis finds inspiration in the daily conversations and in the ever-growing tragedy in Syria. Both play a role in unleashing his imagination and anger together, and both are represented in the simple theme she often uses. His works are are distinguishes by the slick ideas and lively colors, and appended by a few words in Syrian colloquial Arabic that speaks to the public.

The painting “Chemical Weapon” is a fine example of his work. The painting features the phrase “chemical weapon” in every language, addressing the world with a rhetorical question “How will you understand?” A question all Syrians had posed in awe after the whole world was a silent audience to the cold-blooded massacre committed by regime forces in Damascus's outskirts.

Paintings of the young artist are an outlet for all the pain that resides inside his heart. This can be seen most profoundly in the one he designed on the day the minaret of the Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo was bombed. The destruction of the minaret, a World Heritage Site that dates back to the 8th century, had shocked all Syrians at the time. The painting he designed spread all over social networks, and was a most accurate expression of the event at the time: the name of Aleppo, with a broken "L" letter, similar to the fall of its renowned Umayyad minaret.

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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad