In the Studio with Tamim Sibai

Tamim Sibai captures encountered behaviours, masks and mirror images through his oil paintings. We meet him to talk about his practice, growing up in Syria, and a bit of history.

First of all, could you tell us a little bit about your background? Where are you from?

I was born in 1991 Damascus, Syria. Luckily, it started out that I had been born in a family with  parents who are architects. Plus my dad was a painter and sculptor and my sister studied Fine Arts as well. It oriented me to dive into that way since I was a kid. 

What brought you to study Fine Arts?

When I was a 15/16 years old I went to an art institution in Damascus. From there I started to practice more and more, learning about how art can open a massive door of a unique communication between people. This was after doing many workshops in Damascus, Jordan (The National Museum) and in London with the Tate. 

What brought you to London, if not from here?

 I have been to London shortly four times. Two of the times were because of workshops. I had always felt doing more there and getting better involved in the art scene. I discovered how far I could go with doing arts so I definitely decided to continue my studies in it.

How was your experience in art school?

In 2014 I got my Degree of Arts in Painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus, Syria

The program included a wide base of information and study material, that focuses on developing the way of thinking about art how to adjust it to fit our time-needs. Learning about techniques, history, marketing and other subjects allowed me to get a tight grip over the roles I occupied, and it allowed me to have a better understanding about the professional art market.

In 2015 I had my first long journey to Khartoum, Sudan where I did my first solo show at the Institut Français.

While I was doing my internship at the Goethe Institut, I was able to learn and design in the culture department. That was a big push for me to paint more and go further with my skills. I then went to Europe and ended up in Berlin, Germany doing many more exhibitions and improving. In 2018 I got my Masters of Fine Arts in Painting at the Udk in Berlin, Germany.

This  allowed me to grow and become more specific in the field of art, improving  fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, problem solving, lateral thinking, complex analysis and critical thinking. 

No matter what career you choose, those who can arrange, present and display material in a way that is aesthetically pleasing have an advantage.

Rhythm 8, 2019

Acrylic on paper
63.5 x 45.5 cm

Rhythm 3, 2019

Acrylic on paper
63.5 x 45.5 cm

How has your artistic practice evolved throughout the years?  Do you see a hierarchy within your practice? 

I try to make a motivation, a reason or a goal and sometimes…nothing. I shaped my art and improved my skills because I believe that art can have an effect indirectly with all these visual colours and shapes -pointing to our thoughts and emotions.

I always painted, I do not want to mention how important it is to me and Bla bla bla…. But it is, it is my passion.

I see a hierarchy when I discover more techniques, colours and meet new people. I create when I have many questions, wondering and most likely curiosity.

Losing Gravity, 2018

Oil on canvas
120 x 100 cm

How would you describe your aesthetic? Where do you get your narratives from? 

My aesthetic means to face one’s own thoughts and feelings. I am influenced by dialogue with the one another, encountered behaviours… I paint all about human attitude, behaviour, reactions, emotions, characters and appearance. What people hide in themselves and how the artist can see it. It then turns into layers of colours seen through a painting. All human issues matter to art forever and a day. I am trying to understand the human behaviour.

Landscapes and the nature are beautiful, I don’t want to destroy them with my paint, maybe later when I feel I’ve got enough from these complex, non-understandable people that they are all around. I can make that my inspiration.

I want to share my world with my characters, playing with colours and bring out my imagination to the outside.

How are you inspired?

I get influenced by random meetings, talks, exhibitions or emotions shared with family, friends and people. Or sometimes with myself as well Haha.

How did you come about these titles for your works?  Do you have them in mind prior to creating your pieces or after?

For me, all of these titles are related to everyone’s life and I try to be a critic in a way when choosing them. Sometime I have them in my mind or I see them in my paintings, so I name them.

What do you want people to take from your work when they view the work? 

To take their stories or share one.

Do you have the audience consciously in mind when you are creating?

No at all, but I am always fully excited seeing the reactions.

So what’s next?

The last years were busy, and I still am. I’m working on a different series of paintings and sculptures that tell more about ourselves. But this time with a big scale formats. I want to express freely through more colours and big shapes. I have some upcoming  group exhibitions and a solo shows in Berlin this summer also.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I haven’t really heard a piece of advice thats stuck in my head, so I would say no real answer really, it’s hard to give one nowadays.


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