Cookie consent

We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies. Tell me more | Cookie preferences

Syrian artist's vision of love amid devastation of war goes viral

"Freedom Graffiti," by Syrian artist Tammam Azzam, features Klimt's "The Kiss" superimposed over a destroyed Syrian building.

Story highlights

  • An image of Klimt's "The Kiss" superimposed over a destroyed Syrian building has gone viral
  • The image was created digitally by Syrian artist Tammam Azzam, who now lives in Dubai
  • He hopes to return to his homeland and create a physical version of the artwork one day

An image juxtaposing a famous painting of lovers and the ruins of a building in Syria has gone viral, becoming a powerful symbol of the country's devastation from civil war.

"Freedom Graffiti," by Syrian artist-in-exile Tammam Azzam, digitally superimposes Austrian painter Gustav Klimt's masterpiece "The Kiss" -- a gilded image of lovers embracing -- over a bullet-ridden wall in Syria.

Syria's civil war is now approaching its second anniversary. The United Nations estimated last month that the death toll in the conflict had surpassed 60,000.

Azzam's image has gone viral since it was put online last week, attracting more than 35,000 "likes" and 25,000 "shares" on Facebook since Friday.

While the artwork is a purely digital creation, Azzam, who fled to Dubai with his wife and daughter seven months into the conflict, told CNN he hoped to return to his homeland one day to create a physical version of the work.

"When I can return to Syria I have vowed to paint 'The Kiss' onto Syria's infrastructure," said the 33-year-old artist. "I cannot say if it will be the same wall though, as who knows if it will still be standing."

Syrian artist Tammam Azzam

Read also: Syrian artists fight Assad regime with satire

Azzam said he began creating digital art as a form of protest shortly after leaving his country -- where his parents remain -- because he did not want to fight in the army.

The work was part of a series, "The Syrian Museum," that was exhibited in a collection at Dubai's Ayyam Gallery, which represents Azzam, last year. The works referenced other European Masters such as Goya, Picasso and Da Vinci, he said, juxtaposing "some of the greatest achievements of humanity with the devastation in my country."

      Inside the Middle East

    • Aquaventure was expanded in 2013 to include a Leap of Faith ride that passes through a shark-filled aquarium. Visitors can swim in a manmade lagoon filled with marine animals.

      Robot dinosaurs, Lego men and Spider-Man all could become Dubai's newest residents.
    • Al Nassma is the first camel milk chocoalte company in the world. The Dubai-based company had gone global, and Al Nassma products are carried in high-end department stores around the world, including London's Selfridges.

      Not long ago camel milk was an unfancied staple, the preserve of Bedouin herders. Now its becoming a luxury.
    • Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba, 'House of God' that Muslims believe was built by Abraham 4,000 years ago, on September 30, 2014. Hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshipers started pouring into the holy city for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. This year's Hajj comes as the authorities strive to protect pilgrims from two deadly viruses, Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus or MERS

      Managing over 2 million people during the Hajj takes some serious technology.
    • Sarah Attar of Saudi Arabia compete's as one of only two women from the country at the London Olympic Games.

      More needs to be done so women from Saudi Arabia can become world champions in sports.
    • The Humans of New York photo project exposes the hopes and fears of ordinary people in Iraq and Jordan.
    • Dubai's appetite for construction continues with multi-billion dollar boost to build the world's largest airport.