1934 Damaskus – 2016 Berlin

Marwan was born in 1934, in Damascus, Syria. He studied Arabic literature at the university there from 1955 to 1957. In 1957, he went to Berlin. He initially wanted to go to Paris to continue his artistic studies and learn from the French modernists, but a friend convinced him to visit Berlin. Marwan quickly became attached to the city and decided to attend Hann Trier’s painting class at the Academy of Arts in the district of Charlottenburg. He had already received drawing and painting lessons in his homeland.

In divided Berlin, he found a completely different art scene compared to the one in Damascus. In that period, informalism was dominant, and its prominent representative was Hann Trier. Marwan’s teacher encouraged him to find a more unrestrained form and to free himself from the influence of European painting. The influence of informalism is obvious in his first works in Berlin. However, he quickly went back to more figurative elements – his own face and body, or surreal, gloomy landscapes – but using a free, abstract language of colours and forms.

In the 1960s, he painted self-portraits. During that period, he also painted political portraits of known activists and intellectuals in the Arabic world. Around 1970, the first “Gesichtslandschaften” (Face Landscapes) were created, which picture disfigured and distorted faces with deep wrinkles that look like landscapes up close. They are continued in “Köpfe” (Heads), which were painted from the 1980s and further the abstract approach to surfaces.

In 1966, Marwan received the Karl Hofer award, and from 1977 to 2002 he was a lecturer at the Berlin University of Arts. In 2005, he received the Forum culturel libanais award and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. After museum exhibitions, including in Germany, France, and the Middle East, the Haus am Waldsee in Berlin organised his most recent retrospective in 2009 for his 75th birthday.

Marwan lived and worked in Berlin until his death in 2016, but he was always closely connected with the Middle East. In 1999, he created Darat al Funun’s Summer Academy for the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation in Amman, Jordan. His works are valued by Middle Eastern collectors, for example, in Beirut.


Available Works

Exhibitions with Marwan


05.09. - 28.09.2019 WOCHENSCHAU Marwan 05.09. - 12.09. 2019 For Marwan, who worked with [...]

  • Marwan, Interplay (The Friend), 2001-2002, oil on canvas, 228 x 324 cm


27.04. - 16.06.2018 MARWAN Galerie Michael Haas is showing paintings by German-Syrian artist Marwan (1934-2016). [...]

Grants and Awards

1957 First prize for sculpture, Damascus

1966 Karl Hofer Prize, Berlin

1973 Scholarship Cité des Arts, Paris

2002 Fred Thieler Prize for Painting, Berlin

2005 Prize of the Forum Culturel Libanais, Paris | Awarded the Federal Cross of Merit at the Bande, Berlin

Solo Exhibitions (Selection)

2018 Galerie Michael Haas, Berlin

2017 Biennale, Venice 

2015 Barjeed Art Foundation, Maraya Art Center, Sharjah

2014 Museu de arte contemporânea de Serralves, Porto

2013 Exhibition Center, Beirut

2009 Haus am Waldsee, Berlin

2008 Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin

2007 Kurt Tucholsky Literaturmuseum, Rheinsberg

2006 Museum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Lübeck | Berlinische Galerie, Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst Fotografie und Architektur, Berlin

2005 Solidere, Damaskus / Beirut | Lindenau-Museum, Altenburg

2004 Lippische Gesellschaft für Kunst, Detmold

2002 Lapidarium, Berlin | Emden, Kunsthalle

2001 Georg-Meistermann-Museum, Städtische Galerie für Moderne Kunst, Wittlich

2000 Brechthaus Weißensee, Berlin

1999 Stadtmuseum Göhre, Jena

1998 Ramallah Khalid Sakakini Cultural Centre (also 2001)

1996 Al Hanager Hall, Cairo

1995 Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation, Darat al Funun, Amman (also 1996, 98)

1993 Bibliothèque National de Paris, Paris | Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris

1991 Haus der Kunst, Munich

1987 Galerie Michael Hasenclever, Munich (also 1990, 99, 2001, 08, 14, 17)

1984 Kunsthalle, Darmstadt | Galerie Joachim Becker, Cannes (also 1985, 87, 90)

1983 Overbeck-Gesellschaft, Lübeck

1981 Schloss Bellevue, Documenta-Archiv, Kassel

1980 Museum of Modern Art, Bagdad

1978 Forum Kunst, Rottweil

1976 Gruenebaum Gallery, New York | Orangerie Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin

1975 Galerie Buchholz, Munich

1971 Galerie Lietzow, Berlin (also 1972, 74, 75, 76, 78, 80, 83 and 85)

1970 Arabisches Kulturzentrum, Damaskus

1967 Galerie Springer, Berlin (also 1987, 89, 91, 93 and 2004)

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