Syrian artist Sana Atassi paints the 24 faces of Eve

Syrian plastic artist Sana Atassi - “I wish I had spaces larger than an exhibition wall. Painting is revealing what’s inside you, and sometimes what’s inside me requires something bigger than a wall.”
Sunday 16/02/2020
A painting by Syrian plastic artist Sana Atassi. (Al Arab)
Smooth balance. A painting by Syrian plastic artist Sana Atassi. (Al Arab)

DAMASCUS - Syrian plastic artist Sana Atassi is a graduate of the Cinematic Sciences and Arts Programme offered by the General Organisation for Cinema in Damascus. She specialised in advertising and works in animation.

She is featured in two exhibitions in Damascus and Beirut. Her first solo exhibition, which took her a year to put together, displayed a comprehensive sample of her work. Atassi is one of the new faces on the Syrian art scene and she has distinguished herself with a special sensitivity, specifically in dealing with the topic of women.

The exhibition opened January 14 at Dar Al-Assad for Culture and Arts in Damascus. Twenty-four paintings focusing on femininity were on display.

Atassi chose to illustrate the inner worlds of women by focusing on female faces as they react to life’s joys and worries. With an obvious feminine touch, her paintings illustrate inner dramas through expressions of anxiety, waiting, sadness, joy, boredom and entertainment. They show profound human figures in various poses and with different expressions. They are references to the various stages in the artist’s career and personal life.

“The exhibition is not an expression of multiple women,” Atassi said. “There are not 24 women in the exhibition, as it might seem at first, but only one woman in 24 situations. That woman is me.

“What I presented in the exhibition is a set of different human situations that I lived through, sweet and bitter, the choices I made and that marked my life. In turn, I turned those marks into colours and shapes in these paintings.”

Atassi said she works with a mirror and tries to capture her feelings and thoughts. “It can be said that the paintings represent 24 faces of the same person that capture fleeting moments of my life,” she said. “They are simply the product of my life with its pains, dreams and feelings.”

Atassi said she relies on acrylic and has a penchant for subtle colours and sometimes resorts to black and white. Colour was obviously a special formal aspect of the exhibition.

“I love working with acrylic,” she said. “I believe that it can express a beautiful artistic atmosphere and great horizons. It makes my job technically simpler. I relied on simple colours because I do not tend to complicate things. I prefer simplicity in the formation and creation of the idea.

“I do not, however, support mono-colour techniques in painting nor collage or other techniques that we see used that take the painting to strange horizons that I feel will confuse the recipient and constitute an obstacle to the clear understanding of the idea.”

In her paintings, Atassi creates a smooth and calm balance through harmony and fluidity of forms and colours. She is not looking to dazzle as much as she is interested in delving into quiet and deep worlds.

“I try to express each specific idea that has a deep human meaning that I experienced without resorting to multiple colours,” Atassi said. “I lean towards hues of black and white and this is what you notice in my paintings, a reduction of colours favouring these two colours only. For me, colour is what explains or presents the idea and I use it according to the essence of that idea.”

Most of the exhibition paintings were in medium and large sizes, some of which were as large as a mural. The various sizes take exhibition visitors to different spaces and depths.

Some paintings must have had a great effect on visitors because they stopped to examine them for a long time. They must have sensed a different artistic form that touched their sensitivity in a significant way.

“When I paint, I feel like I am spending energy that lives in me and looking for some way to get out,” Atassi said. “The shapes and the colours are this energy. I try to convey on the canvas my feelings and my thoughts in my daily life. Because of the difficult circumstances that we are all experiencing these days, I go through a lot of emotional experiences.”

“In light of the great and violent upheavals of our era that are ravaging us intellectually and morally, I find that these factors combined nourish my desire to paint more and more, as I’m able to frame these emotions in different paintings,” she said. “Sometimes I feel that the white empty space of the canvas is not sufficient for what I want to express and I want to say a lot.

“I wish I had spaces larger than an exhibition wall. Painting is revealing what’s inside you and sometimes what’s inside me requires something bigger than a wall.”