Youssef Abdelké

  • Youssef Abdelké
  • Work

Youssef Abdelké, installation view, Galerie Sfeir-Semler 2018
Sfeir-Semler Gallery Hamburg, 2018


Youssef Abdelké (b. 1951, Qamischli, Syria) lives and works in Damascus, Syria. He studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus and graduated in 1976 with a project on Black September - portraying the massacres of Palestinians in Jordan in September 1970 - that revealed a militant artist who, ever since, relentlessly fights for freedom and denounces violence.

Known for his sympathies, and for his political activism, Abdelké was arrested for nearly two years in 1978, and then moved to Paris and graduated from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux- Arts in 1986 and from the Sorbonne University as a doctoral student in Fine Arts in 1989. Unable to return home, he lived and worked in exile in Paris for twenty-four years. In 2005, he decided to travel back to Damascus, and managed to safely get through border security; but in 2010 his passport was confiscated, and he was arrested again for five weeks in 2013.

Youssef Abdelké’s universe is black, and, despite the stillness of his drawings, overflowing with rage at injustice and abuse of power. His personal approach to perspective and his exploration of lines through drawing and etching reveals a multi-layered practice, that highlights the fragility of Men and unexpectedly celebrates human life.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2018 Schwarz, Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg, Germany
2014, 16 Galerie Tanit, Munich, Germany
2002, 12, 14 Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris, France
2006 Henki Hall, Helsinki, Finland
2005 Khan Asaad Pasha; organized by Atassi Gallery, Damascus, Syria
2004 Zamalek Art Center - Akhnatoun Gallery, Cairo, Egypt
Galerie Akhenaton, Cairo, Egypt
2003 6th Chamaliéres International Triennial for Etching, France
2001 Al-Riwaq Art Gallery, Manama, Bahrain
2000 Hall of Faculty of Law, Sfax, Tunisia
1999 Green Art Gallery, Dubai, UAE
1995, 98 Atassi Gallery, Damascus, Syria
1987 Ornarina Art Gallery, Damascus, Syria
1974 Al-Shaab Gallery, Damascus, Syria
1973 Al-Houriya Hall, Damascus, Syria

Selected Group Exhibitions

2019 Art Dubai, Dubai, UAE
Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland
2018, 19 Frieze London, London, UK
2015 Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan
2011 Sharjah Biennial 10: Plot for a Biennial, Sharjah, UAE
2009 Paris, Damascus: Crossed Glances, National Museum of Damascus, Damascus, Syria
2008 Paris, Damascus: Crossed Glances, Institute du Monde Arabe, Paris, France
Word into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East, British Museum, London, UK
2007 Salon d’Automne, Paris, France
2001 Sharjah International Biennial, Sharjah, UAE
8th International Cairo Biennial, Cairo, Egypt
1997 Cracovia International Biennial for Etching, Poland
Chamalières International Triennial for Etching, France
1995 7th International Etching Biennial Taiwan
1976 Inter-graphic Triennial, Berlin, Germany

Public Collections

  The British Museum, London; Institut de Monde Arabe, Paris; The National Museum of Kuwait, Kuwait City; Amman Museum of Modern Art, Amman; Digne-Les-Bains Museum, Digne-les-Bains  


1989 PH.D. in Fine Arts, Sorbonne University, Paris, France
1986 Diploma in Etching, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts Paris, France
1976 Faculty of Fine Arts Damascus, Syria