Feb 21 2018

Obituary: Fathallah Zamroud (1968–2018)

by Ysabelle Cheung

Syrian-Lebanese painter FATHALLAH ZAMROUD passed away at the age of 49 on February 3. Courtesy the artist and Ayyam Gallery, Beirut.

The Syrian-Lebanese painter Fathallah Zamroud, respected internationally for his compositionally complex paintings that marry his studies in architecture and fine art, passed away at the age of 49 on February 3, 2018.

According to Ayyam Gallery, which represented the Beirut-based artist, Zamroud had been battling cancer for the past few years.

Born in 1968, Zamroud developed an early interest in the arts, which manifested in his enrolling in a course in interior architecture at the Lebanese American University. Post-graduation, he began a seven-year studio apprenticeship with the renowned Lebanese painter Louna Maalouf, where he trained in a range of formal techniques such as drawing and painting. Zamroud depicts abstract, apocalyptic landscapes warped by conflict and time in his works, often drawing on specific scenes from the consequences of war in Lebanon and Syria, such as the refugee camps. He was lauded for his use of gestural brushstrokes—influenced by German Expressionism—and the overlapping layers of depth, creating nuanced narratives about disused and temporary spaces. In 2017, he participated in the 13th edition of the Sharjah Biennial with a series of these canvases at Al Hamriyah Studios.

Zamroud was actively involved in the Beirut art scene. He was secretary at Massyr, a nonprofit organization that pledges to promote Middle Eastern art practices internationally, through new initiatives that boost the careers of and gather artists and curators in the region. He was also head designer at the 45-year-old family company Zamroud Ets, which specializes in producing gold jewelry.

Zamroud presented a solo exhibition at Ayyam Gallery from September to October of 2017 with oil-on-paper works that sought to describe the struggles of humankind in the 21st century. At the upcoming iteration of Art Dubai, slated to take place in March, the gallery will posthumously show paintings focused on sylvan landscapes and the solitude of nature from Zamroud’s latest series, which has yet to be shown elsewhere. Recently, a group exhibition opened on February 24 in Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue, featuring Zamroud alongside a cohort of other artists from the Arab world such as Dia al-Azzawi, Charles Khoury, Marwan Sahmarani and Mahmoud al-Obaidi.

Ysabelle Cheung is managing editor of ArtAsiaPacific.

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