Syria’s Banksy

Photo by Abu Malik Al-Shami

Street Artist Abu Malik al-Shami

For two years, from summer 2014 to summer 2016, murals popped up in dozens of locations throughout Darayya, 10km from the center of Damascus (Syria).

They were made by the street artist and rebel fighter Abu Malik al-Shami. Like Banksy, he is a politically aware street artist whose paintings often appeared suddenly and overnight.

Photo by Abu Malik Al-Shami

Before the war started in 2011 the artist, now 22 years old, was attending high school in Damascus. He joined anti-government protests in the capital and began using his self-taught artistic skills to spread revolutionary messages.

But in early 2013, still a teenager, he travelled to Darayya to join the Free Syrian Army, taking his sketchbooks and pencils with him. On his first day in Darayya, he says, he was taught to shoot a gun. On his second day, he was sent to the front line.

It was only much later, in 2014, that he met an artist named Majd, nicknamed the “Eye of Darayya” who encouraged him to take up street art. His first mural, on the ruins of a large house, depicted a girl pointing to a heart – teaching a soldier about love, before he goes out to fight.

Read more here.

Photo by Abu Malik Al-Shami

This mural was painted in a bombed-out school. The student is writing: ‘We used to joke and say, God please destroy the school … and he did.’

Photo by Abu Malik Al-Shami

The ironic caption reads “Happy Mother’s Day” – in the Arab world, the holiday is celebrated on 21 March

Photo by Abu Malik Al-Shami

The Arabic writing reads: “How are we celebrating Eid this year?”

Photo by Abu Malik Al-Shami

Translation: “Our roses are for those who watered them with their blood”

Photo by Abu Malik Al-Shami

This picture depicts the changing nature of the Syrian conflict, from peaceful protests (2011), to regime forces (2012), to rebel gains (2013), and finally the rise of Islamic State (2014)


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