Jamal Jarrah

04 December 2014

Jamal Jarrah is a Syrian painter, sculptor and journalist, born in Damascus 1958.

Unlike other artists, the clash between Jarrah and the regime dates back to 1981, when he had his first exhibition at the Soviet Cultural Center. The political theme of his paintings led to grave consequences, forcing him to flee Syria for Cyprus, where he lived for ten years. There, the artist practiced journalism, while simultaneously conducting several collective and individual projects.

Upon his return to Damascus ten years later, the artists opted out from the syndicate of fine arts, which he had been a member of, to protest its shortcomings.

As Arab tyrants began to fall one after the other, Jarrah could tell a change was bound to happen in his country. He thus started distributing pamphlets that encourage people to protest in his city, with a special focus on neighborhoods of religious minorities. “I had realized that the regime would invoke the issue of sectarianism to paralyze the people with fear,” highlights the artist, “Which is why the pamphlets emphasized that the revolution would be for all Syrians, against tyranny and oppression; and not against a particular group or sect.”

Jamal Jarrah was the first artist to be detained, after participating in one of the uprising's earliest demonstrations in Damascus on March 18, 2011. After his release, Jarrah returned to his art, in the hope of portraying the suffering and courage of the Syrian people.

Inspired by the uprising, the artist began painting and sculpting using clay. His artworks revolved around the Syrian civil movement, detainees and martyrs. His first sculpture titled Scream, attempts to let out the Syrian voice that has been stolen for decades.


The Association of Syrian authors, which was founded during the uprising, has exhibited the artist's artworks, while Damascus Magazine has chosen one of the artist's sculptures as its cover.

Almost two years after the outbreak of the uprising, mounting security pressures forced Jarrah out of his homeland once again. He is currently based in Amman, Jordan, Where he works as an artist for al-Arab Newspaper, an Arabic newspaper published in London.

With a glimpse of hope, artist Jamal Jarrah concludes his interview with SyriaUntold saying:

“Despite all the turmoil that the uprising has witnessed, I still believe that the Syrian people who have risen in rebellion for their freedom and dignity, will prevail in the end.”

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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad