Journeys From An Absent Present to a Lost Past

Mohamad Hafez

Archive Exhibitions (15 April to 29 May 2022)
This Spring, Fabrica and Brighton Festival co-present a series of artworks by the Syrian born, US-based architect and artist Mohamad Hafez, shown for the first time in the UK.
These Intricate dioramas of streetscapes and rooms of Damascus reflect on the devastation of the city during the Syrian war. Strongly nostalgic and politically charged they capture the magnitude of the devastation and poignantly expose the fragility of human life. The exhibition will run from 15 April to 29 May 2022.

Mohamad Hafez describes the initial motivation for his work as being a deep homesickness. Having gone to the USA from Syria in 2003 on a single-entry visa to study architecture, he realised that he couldn’t return to his home country. As a way to address his longing for home he decided to conjure it through his art by drawing on the memories and sketches he had made whilst he was there to recreate in tiny but tangible form, the architecture and street scenes of his home city of Damascus.

The exhibition is part of Brighton Festival 2022. Syrian architect Marwa al-Sabouni is one of two Brighton Festival Guest directors in 2022. al-Sabouni has written two books: The Search for Home and Building for Hope. In these she looks at how the built environment directly affects the community that inhabits it and how cities and buildings might be rebuilt in the aftermath of conflict.

About The Artist

A Syrian-American artist and architect, Mohamad Hafez was born in Damascus, raised in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and educated in the Midwestern United States. Expressing the juxtaposition of East and West within him, Hafez’s art reflects the political turmoil in the Middle East through the compilation of found objects, paint and scrap metal. Using his architectural skills, Hafez creates surrealistic Middle Eastern streetscapes that are architectural in their appearance yet politically charged in their content.

Responding to the atrocities of the Syrian war, Hafez’s recent work depicts cities besieged by the civil war to capture the magnitude of the devastation and to expose the fragility of human life. However, in contrast to the violence of war, his art imbues a subtle hopefulness through its deliberate incorporation of verses from the Holy Quran.

At the core of Hafez’s work, the verses offer a distinct contrast between the stark pessimistic reality of destruction and the optimistic hope for a bright future. Scenes reiterate narratives from the Qur’an to affirm that, even during the darkest of times, patience is necessary for the blossoming of life and that, eventually, justice will prevail.

Arts council england
Brighton festival
FBA MH 1000252
FBA MH 1000285
FBA MH 1166137
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