28 Apr 2016 – 31 Aug 2016

Galerie Sfeir-Semler

Hamburg, Germany


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The new exhibition with the Syrian artist MARWAN marks our 30 year collaboration with the artist, with his first exhibition in our space in Kiel in 1987, followed by many other shows in Hamburg and Beirut, most notably his 75th birthday show retrospective in 2009.


Born 1934 in Damascus, Marwan immigrated to Germany in 1957. He studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin (1957-1963), where he later taught. His work was heavily influenced by the artistic trends that emerged from post-1945 Germany and the postcolonial Levant. His introspective works from the early sixties are reflective of rapidly changing socio-political landscape and the confusion over identity and nationalism the younger generation were facing.  His multifaceted artistic practice has made him a unique representative of postwar German art, as well a one of the most notable Arab painters of the late 20th century.

While most of his European contemporaries focused on the formal vocabulary of structural realism, Marwan brought back emotion and human expression to his paintings. His work stood on its own in the 1960s art scene, criticized by E. Rothers as "pathetic figuration" in response to his 1967 exhibition in Berlin at Gallery Rudolph Springer. 

His work evolved, yet the vibrant, expressive faces were persistently present. Face motifs have practically become a singular subject in his work since the 1970s.  The painting process is extensive, with a multitude of color patches layered on to the canvas. The swaths of color create a three dimensionality - with the image appearing and withdrawing. The face is initially modeled after the artist however; the individual self disappears into a vast landscape of brushstrokes, revealing an insight into the human spirit. The upcoming exhibition will show self-portraits from 1985 to 2010.


Marwan (b. 1934) lives and works in Berlin. He most recently had a solo exhibition at Serralves Foundation, Porto, Portugal in 2014 that presented his early works from 1962 to 1972. He has had solo exhibtions such as at the Barjeel Art Center in Sharjah (2014); Beirut Exhibition Center (2013); Museum für islamische Kunst, Berlin (2008); Darat al Funun, Amman (2004); Institute du Monde Arabe, Paris (1993), Haus der Kunst, Munich (1991); among many others. He has also participated in group exhibitions such asHere and Elsewhere at the New Museum, New York (2014); Kunst in Berlin. 1945 bis heute at Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (2013); and the 2009 Istanbul Biennial. His works are in the public collections of Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi; Tate Modern, London; British Museum, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Bibliothèque National de France, Paris; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, USA; Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation,Darat al Funun, Amman; Staatliche Museen Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, Germany; Kunsthalle Bremen,Germany; National Museum Damascus, Syria; Hamburger Kunsthalle; as well as several other museums, institutes, and private collections in Germany and across the world.

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Exhibiting artists



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