Rise Cactus Omran Younis
Rise of the Cactus by Omran Younis
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Fann À Porter invites everyone to attend Rise of the Cactus, a solo exhibition by acclaimed Syrian artist Omran Younis. It gives one the opportunity to see his eponymous new series of paintings, which veer into contemplation and invite introspection from the audience. The artist transforms a universally understood symbol, the cactus, into personal emblems and thus raises questions about how the public interacts and perceives personal symbolic gestures and references. The show will run through the 24th of May, 2024.

In the displayed collection of works, which derives from Younis’ Cactus Story series he began in 2020, he continues his shift from portraying the harsh realities of war in Syria figuratively. The artist’s practice has developed into a symbolic one, where these depictions are presented in the form of a cactus, a symbol of resilience and patience in the Arab world. Although the subject matter has changed, the message remains ever-present.

Rise of the Cactus_insta-view
Omran Younis, Rise of the Cactus (installation view). Fann À Porter, Dubai, 2024. Courtesy of the gallery.

In the paintings on view, the cacti emerge from the edges of the canvas and spread like fortresses, protecting themselves and their surroundings. Younis says that the cactus shows that even earth gets its fair share of destruction, war spares no one and nothing. But this plant is also highly symbolic, as not only does it resist through its spines, but it can also form a protective fence around more gentle plants. “As with everything I paint, […] it shows the complexity of life […],” the artist adds.

About the artist

Omran Younis (b. 1971, Hasakah, Syria), who resides in Damascus (Syria), obtained both his BFA (1998) and MFA (2000) from Damascus University, where he studied at the Department of Painting (Faculty of Fine Arts).

Younis is famous for his large-scale expressionist artworks that portray the horrors of war, evoking heart-wrenching feelings. In his practice, he pushes the boundaries of painting in search of ways to communicate the complexity of the human psyche and the physical responses that reveal its fragility, such as fear and pain. In the artist’s latest works characterised by thick brushwork, cacti stand in for the anonymous figures of earlier artworks, anthropomorphic representations of weathered yet resilient protagonists.

Rise of the Cactus_insta-view_2
Omran Younis, Rise of the Cactus (installation view). Fann À Porter, Dubai, 2024. Courtesy of the gallery.

Younis has displayed his art pieces in exhibitions across the globe, which include Works on Paper (Fann À Porter, Dubai, 2023); Сairo Art Fair 2023 (Egyptian Grand Museum, Cairo, Egypt); Menart Fair 2023 (Villa Empain, Brussels, Belgium); the Venice Biennale (Italy, 2022); Cactus Story (solo) (Mission Art Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon, 2021); Human (Zara Gallery, Amman, Jordan, 2014); and others. The list of the awards the artist has been granted includes the first prize of the 3rd Annual Youth Competition in Damascus, among others. His works are part of some collections across the Arab world, such as, for example, the Atassi Foundation. Besides, Younis was featured at the Virginia University Gallery in Doha alongside such renowned Arab artists as Dia Azzawi, Mona Hatoum, and Youssef Nabil.

Untitled, 2023
Omran Younis, Untitled, 2023. Oil and mixed media on canvas. 124 x 180 cm

To get more information about Rise of the Cactus, please visit the official web page of the show.

You might also be interested in visiting The Casablanca Art School: Platforms and Patterns for a Postcolonial Avant-Garde (1962–1987).