Contemporary painter, Elias Zayat, dies at 87

Elias Zayat is a Syrian Postwar and Contemporary painter who was born in 1935. His work has been offered at auction multiple times, with realized prices ranging from $2,750 to $60,000, depending on the size and medium of the artwork.

Elias has numerous key galleries and museums such as Green Art Gallery which have featured his work in the past.

Giant of Middle Eastern Modernism, Elias Zayat, Dies at Age 87

Elias Zayat, who was a Syrian painter who helped people to formulate a kind of modernism specific to his home country, died at age of 87. Dubai’s Green Art Gallery, which raised an exhibition of his art in 2015, announced his passing on September 5, 2022.

The previous statement by Green Art Gallery called Elias that “He was one of the country’s most significant artists of the 20th century, and as well as also a key founder of Syria’s modern art movement.”

“Everything I’ve done in my life stems from my attachment to my country,” Zayat said in an interview with “The National” in 2015. “My family has been in Damascus for at least 3 generations and this initially inspired me to discover my roots and relationships tied to Syria and also the Levant. With my paintings, I’m telling you that this is where I am from.”

The images that he painted may seem divorced from reality, but he told “The National” that they could offer a look at where we are headed. “Art, after all, is looking into the future,” He said.

Know about famous Painter’s Educational Qualification and Early Life

In the year 1956, Zayat was granted a governmental scholarship to study at the National Academy of Art in Sofia, Bulgaria. And this moment was an extremely influential time for him. Zayat was Born in 1935 in Damascus, and studied abroad, in Bulgaria and Egypt.

After the completion of his education, he returned back to Syria in the 1960s, he had significant knowledge of European modernism, in particular, works by Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse and after that, he remained in Syria for the rest of his career. To understand the region history of his country, he also spent time studying centuries-old Coptic art in Cairo and ancient sites like Palmyra in Syria.

 After studying under portrait artist Boris Mitov and socialist realism portrait painter Ilya Petrov, Zayat experimented with different techniques and he was greatly inspired by post-Impressionism. He was able to travel to different countries across Europe during this time, visiting galleries and museums to feed his interest in art history.

Professional Career of Elias Zayat

From his childhood, Zayat was interested in Painting and he also drew many paintings in his lifetime to preserve the old cultural heritage of Syria. The recognition for Zayat beyond the Middle East has been slow to come, although his work has been canonized in that region. The Sharjah Art Foundation, the Barjeel Art Foundation, and also Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation all own his specific paintings. And on 2017, Skira produced a monograph of his work.

Zayat spent portions of his career abroad with synthesized styles derived from European modernism with early Christian iconography and Sufi imagery. Often, the result was richly hued paintings in which mystical beings appeared to emerge from abstract backgrounds.

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Elias Zayat visited many museums in Egypt, discovering and studying ancient Egyptian and Islamic artworks and also the Fayum mummy portraits, dating back to the late 1st century BC.

After coming back to Syria, Zayat also traveled across the country to archaeological sites such as Horan and Palmyra to study the aesthetic qualities of ancient Syrian art and reconnect with his birthplace’s cultural heritage.

Elias Zayat Contribution to Painting

Zayat has a lot of contributions to Syria’s painting. His works have been shown at several solo exhibitions, including Elias Zayat: Homage to Gibran, Four Seasons Hotel, Damascus in 2010, Dance and the City, Atassi Gallery, Al-Sayed Gallery, Damascus (1995), and many others. He has also been awarded many times in his career as a professional painter. Zayat is one of the great painters of the late 1980s.