Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

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

By Tim Hume, for CNN
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1615 GMT (0015 HKT)
"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

(CNN) -- 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.

Syrian artist Tammam Azzam
Syrian artist Tammam Azzam

"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."

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."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 5, 2014 -- Updated 0346 GMT (1146 HKT)
Robot dinosaurs, Lego men and Spider-Man all could become Dubai's newest residents.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1418 GMT (2218 HKT)
Not long ago camel milk was an unfancied staple, the preserve of Bedouin herders. Now its becoming a luxury.
October 9, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
Managing over 2 million people during the Hajj takes some serious technology.
October 7, 2014 -- Updated 0611 GMT (1411 HKT)
More needs to be done so women from Saudi Arabia can become world champions in sports.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1729 GMT (0129 HKT)
Is nothing sacred? How tech allows narcissism to run riot.
From the waters of the Persian Gulf a new mega museum is emerging.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
Where better to start a record-breaking solar powered flight than the desert?
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 1427 GMT (2227 HKT)
Ahmed Eldin is the 18-year-old behind the prog-rock band's new album cover. Shine on you crazy diamond.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
The Humans of New York photo project exposes the hopes and fears of ordinary people in Iraq and Jordan.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 0206 GMT (1006 HKT)
Dubai's appetite for construction continues with multi-billion dollar boost to build the world's largest airport.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 0302 GMT (1102 HKT)
The UAE is becoming a hub for plastic surgery with more Emiratis going under the knife each year.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1120 GMT (1920 HKT)
Meet Erdal Inci, a digital artist from Turkey who is transforming the medium.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1339 GMT (2139 HKT)
Iran is pumping billions of dollars into a scheme to save a lake. What's so important about it?
ADVERTISEMENT