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Houman Al Sayed is best known for his large-scale paintings that depict alienated, shock-ridden subjects, whose disproportionately sized, swollen faces attest to their confusion and isolation. As his subjects float above densely populated cities – undefined, but characteristic of many Middle Eastern cities – they appear helpless. The entrapment portrayed in Houman Al Sayed’s paintings is not specific to the Syrian context in which he was raised, but is symptomatic of the widespread social oppression throughout the region. In the artists’ words, “What I am trying to show through my work is not confined to our current situation. This is about what has happened to us over many hundreds of years.” Al-Sayed was born in Masyaf, Syria in 1981, a small city in northwestern Syria and at the age of 17, he held his first exhibition in the port city of Latakia, 90 kilometers from his hometown. He graduated from the Sculpture Department of the Institute of Applied Arts in Damascus in 2003 and later moved to Beirut where he lives and works.

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