S IS FOR SYRIA
Tammam Azzam became famous for digitally juxtaposing Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss and other prominent Western imagery onto bombed buildings in Damascus. In this series, he painted the devastation in his homeland—where Tammam hasn’t lived since 2011—in excruciating detail by studying photographic dispatches. I love these reluctantly because they are absolutely shattering, painfully beautiful pictures of the postapocalyptic inhumanity that inhabits Syria while locals hide for cover in basements. They also remind me of Anselm Kiefer’s Reichstag series, just as haunting and desolate, but oddly beguiling. I admire them so, and yet desperately wish Azzam did not have a reason to make the paintings.