As one of Syria’s most celebrated painters, Fateh Moudarres is internationally renowned as the pioneer of modernism in Syria, creating a unique style influenced by Syrian heritage, the plight of the rural population and regional upheavals.
Born in Aleppo, Fateh Moudarres (1922–1999) studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome and continued his postgraduate studies at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris until 1972. He began to incorporate abstraction into his painting while he was in Europe, blending the traditions of Syrian art with Western techniques, becoming increasingly political in subject matter. Upon returning to Syria, where he was lecturer and Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Damascus University until 1993, he became a highly influential professor for generations of artists. Moudarres was also known for his philosophical ideas and critical art essays, publishing both his writing and artwork in regional magazines.
Reflecting the changing social and political environments of the time, Moudarres’ work took certain issues – such as the Syrian agricultural crisis or the civil war in Lebanon – and sought to depict the sorrow and the problems of the people. He painted sober figures with his characteristic solid square-shaped heads reminiscent of styles from Assyrian statuary, Palmyrene figures and Christian iconography. In much of his work, warm earthy colors are prevalent with thick textural brushstrokes and the occasional incorporation of sand into the paint.
Moudarres continued painting until his death, and his work has been included in international exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale, São Paulo Biennale, New York International Art Fair, Contemporary Arab Art Exhibition in Paris, and the Seoul and Cairo Biennials. In addition, works by Moudarres have been acquired by institutions such the British Museum, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; National Museum in Damascus, Syrian Ministry of Culture, Dummar Museum, the Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut; the Jalanbo Collection and Ibrahimi Collection, Jordan. A retrospective of his career was held at the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris in 1995.