Abdul Nasser al-Naji

04 March 2014

Despite the unexpected blossoming of the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, Syrian-Palestinian artist Abdul Naser al-Naji could not foresee a revolution in Syria. In his own words, the Syrian people were “dealing with a viscous dictator, that resembles no other in the region.” However, his astonishment soon turned into perseverance, as he mirrored the uprising through his art.

Born in the Palestinian refugee camp of al-Yarmouk in Damascus, al-Naji was a member of the Union of Palestinian artists, and a co-founder of Reaction, an assembly of Palestinian photographers.

Before the outbreak of the revolution, al-Naji devoted his time to evolve as an artist. He was a volunteer at numerous development programs held by UNRWA in photography, film making, graphic design and theater.

When demonstration swept al-Yarmouk camp and various places in the country, al-Naji made use of his knowledge in the field of graphic design and photography. He held his camera and took to the streets, documenting the event taking place in the camp and its surrounding areas.

In Sweden, where he is now based, the artist continues to contribute to the revolution with his paintings. From “Intifada For Gaza” and “Siege” to “Pigeons Fly in Damascus”, Abdul Naser explores the depth of Syrian and Palestinian suffering through simple elements and bold colors.

In one particular artwork however, al-Naji poured his heart and soul. The painting was dedicated to Hassan Hassan, Abdul Naser's drama teacher who died under torture in Assad's prisons. It features the crucified Messiah wearing the comedy-tragedy mask.

Abdul Nasser al-Naji concludes his interview with SyriaUntold saying: “Art translates the emotions and ideas of an individual into materials that carry aesthetic value, despite the painful reality in which the artist lives.”


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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad