Wajdi Saleh: Conceptual Art in the Syrian Uprising

16 July 2014


The countrywide uprising in Syria has stretched beyond the political paradigm, to have an ubiquitous influence. It has paved the way for a whole new generation of artists, challenged to unfold the events on the ground and preserve the righteous demands of the uprising. Graphic designer Wajdi Saleh is one of the uprising’s generation of young artists.

Saleh uses graphic design to translate thoughts into lines and colors, and to highlight the marginalized civil movement. His posters draw attention to the suffering of the Syrian people, by combining shrewd ideas with aesthetics.

In “Save Syrian Children”, a little child playing football is shown with a bullet leaving his body, on which the artist comments “This is not a movie poster. This is reality.” The picture depicts the tragedy of Syrian children, and illustrates how violence is stealing their childhood.

Save Syrian Children, by Wajdi Saleh. Source: the artist's Facebook page.
When it comes to Saleh’s childhood, the scene is different. Although he was born and raised in the city of Lattakia, the 24-year-old artist traces his roots back to Aleppo, where he moved later on, to continue his education. Saleh was studying Information Technology at the university of Aleppo when the uprising began. He was forced to move once again to Istanbul, where he received his bachelor’s degree from the university of SVU.

His academic career and his passion for art were intertwined, which helped him evolve into a “conceptual artist”. A form of art that refrains from using text to deliver a certain idea, but relies merely on the components and elements of the image itself.

In the artwork “International Peace in Syria”, the artist needed no words to describe the hypocrisy of the UN. “A peace dove holding both an olive branch and a bomb is heading to Syria. That is what I pictured when the entire world left my people to die, under the pretext of international peace”, Saleh says to SyriaUntold.

While the artist focuses on the situation in Syria, he makes powerful connections with other events taking place worldwide. An image of the World Cup thrown in a garbage, begs the question: “Who cares about the World Cup, when humanity is dead?”

International Peace in Syria, by Wajdi Saleh. Source: the artist's Facebook page.

This work is under a Creative Commons license. Attribution: Non commercial - ShareAlike 4.0. International license

Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad