Fadi Yazigi
Fadi Yazigi

When the young Fadi Yazigi took to sketching with
a pencil in the classroom, rather than joining in
spelling and grammar lessons, it was perhaps a
sign of things to come.
“Art was pretty much the only thing I liked at school,”
he acknowledges.
“Nothing else really excited me. Art gave me a
chance to prove myself in something.”
Those early drawings marked the beginning of
a journey for a young talent who would go on to
become one of the region’s most fascinating,
figurative artists working today.
Born in Syria, Yazigi studied at the Faculty of
Fine Arts, Damascus University, gaining a Bachelor’s
degree in fine arts, while specialising in sculpture.
Since graduating in 1988, he has continued to live in
Damascus with his family and works fulltime at his
studio, which is located in the old city.

Born in Syria, Yazigi studied at the Faculty of Fine
Arts, Damascus University, gaining a Bachelor’s
degree in fine arts, while specialising in sculpture.
The human form and faces, in particular, lie at the
heart of Yazigi’s instantlyrecognisable paintings,
ceramic relief carvings and sculptures, with people
often depicted as underdeveloped creatures or
half-human beasts.
“The Babylonians were depicting the human form
6000 years ago and I, along with others, am simply
continuing what they began,” he notes. “I believe it
represents the most important thing on this earth.”
While the war and regional unrest are inevitably
key influences, Yazigi also draws on aspects of
everyday life in his art, from the mundane to the
humorous. “I aim to capture people’s emotions and
expressions, be it happiness or sadness,” he says.
The discovery of clay marked a milestone in
Yazigi’s development as a multimedia artist.
“I found clay to be warm, passionate and powerful,
capable of capturing my ideas and expressing what
was in my heart,” he says.
“It was the medium I found best suited to
transferring what was in my head to my hand.”
From experimenting on slabs of clay, Yazigi quickly
moved to creating threedimensional pieces. He is
also known for firing first-relief sculptures, saying
the process allows him to maintain continuity and
ensure honesty in his work.
“I don’t want to hide the feelings with a glaze,
so I keep it as it is,” he explains.
“I also like the way that the light comes through and
highlights the texture of the clay.
The entire process helps with the next step,
making me feel enthusiastic.”

The war has had a major impact on Yazigi’s work on
many levels, from dampening his motivation early on
to the purely practical. He admits to being
“confused and depressed” initially, but then,
acceptance, reality and the need to continue working
took over. “I decided I had to get on with my life,
for my own sake and also for my children, and that
included working,” he says.
Yazigi’s thoughts and findings on life in Syria today
have inspired many of his new pieces. Some of his
mixed-media works on paper juxtapose still life with
figures to reaffirm the message that the artist is still
alive and still has a life, irrespective of what’s
happening in the world he inhabits.
The new body of work also includes meticulous and
poignant ink drawings of paper kites carrying children
and letters written by them expressing their dreams
for the future high in the sky, closer to God. Other
pieces with a message include a relief on clay of a
happy family scene with a menacing threat, or
‘monster’ lurking in the middle.
From a practical point of view, the war has brought
additional, far-reaching challenges, ranging from a
shortage of local clay to the fact that Syria no longer
has an operating foundry.
However, Yazigi points to the positives, which
include Syria’s wonderful light and the fact that above
all, the country is still his home. “Maybe there are no
longer any birds here, but I’m still trying to capture a
mood,” he says. “I can’t stop working; art is not only
part of my survival – it’s also a way of looking for a solution.”

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