Syrian Artist Pays Homage to Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss

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Tammam Azzam Freedom Graffiti, 150x150cm, Archival Print, 2012, Edition of 5, Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery

Freedom Graffiti by Tammam Azzam

Tammam Azzam superimposed Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss on to an image of a Syrian bomb site. Tammam Azzam is represented by Ayyam Gallery.

According to the United Nations, more than 60,000 people have been killed so far inSyria’s devastating civil war. The thousands of photographs that have come out of this conflict are a powerful visual record of the violence being committed. And now, one digitally-manipulated image by a Syrian artist is capturing the Internet’s imagination.

(PHOTOSSyria’s Agony: The Photographs That Moved Them Most)

Tammam Azzam, a Syrian-born artist who lives and works in Dubai, digitally superimposed Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss on a photograph of a bullet-ridden wall in an unidentified part of Syria. That image, titledFreedom Graffiti, has gone viral, with over 21,000 people sharing it on Facebook since London’s Saatchi Gallery shared it on Feb. 1.

(MOREChaos and Killing in Syria: Photos of a Slow-Motion Civil War)

Freedom Graffiti is part of a larger body of work Azzam produced in response to his country’s struggle, titled ‘Syrian Museum’. The digital artworks play on other iconic paintings from artists such as da Vinci, Matisse and Picasso set against images of a Syria in ruins. One of the other works Azzam has manipulated is Spanish artist Francisco Goya’s The Third of May 1808 – a painting illustrating the execution of Spanish resistance fighters by Napoleon’s troops during the Peninsula War. Speaking with Swide Magazine, Azzam says the work is about showing that “Syria is living the Third of May every day and no one stops it.”

MORE: The Ecce Homo Dilemma: Spain Puzzles over an Art Disaster Gone Viral