Zeina Alkattan, understanding the human condition.

Zeina Alkattan was born in Damascus, Syria in 1994. She grew up there, surrounded by members of her family who had an interest in different art majors. After finishing high school in 2012, Zeina started studying in Damascus University Faculty of Fine Arts, but after the war started she moved to the United Arab Emirates where she continued perusing her passion in arts, where she is currently studying for her bachelor degree in Fine Arts and Design, at University of Sharjah.

What influenced you to start being creative?

The nature around me when I used to live in Syria was my biggest inspiration and the way the world works its colors together.

Your family members also had an interest in art majors, what type of art where they interested in and did any of those elements influence you? 

My dad paints as a hobby and has a graphic design company so he works in somewhat a creative job, my brother is an architect but also painted throughout the time I was growing up trying to figure out what he would like to major in. The combination of having an artistic family drove my passion towards arts and eventually studying it.

You are a fine art student in your 4th year, what project are you currently working on? 

I am in my 4th year this year 2017-2018 so I am preparing for my senior project,  I am currently inspired by social issues that we go through on a daily basis, and we face because of our gender, color or nationality. My inspiration came through digging into my unconsciousness and the effects it has on our actions and behaviour. This can be seen through my new painting (header image) where I was able to work on my techniques and my methods more using colour and perspective.

Women have been used in art, cinema and so on as an object to sell the product, inspired by Laura Mulvey view on The Male Gaze – ” the male gaze is the way in which visual arts and literature depict the world and women from a masculine point of view, presenting women as objects of male pleasure” – and Laura sees that the male gaze lays in a triangle between the female male and the camera man, therefore to put the viewers in the position of being objectified and the uncomfortableness of it, by making the triangle relationship between the male gazing at the female and the female gazing back at the viewer whether it was a male or a female. and as Jaques Lacan argues how the awareness of an object can induce an awareness of also being an object.

This work is going to be shown showed this September in the 35th Annual Emirates Fine Art Society Exhibition in Sharjah.

I chose this major because right before graduation from high school I attended a drawing class with my brother and I found out that I had the talent to draw and I felt really content when it turned out alright, so I decided to apply to fine arts and after I got accepted I knew I wanted to do that in the future.

I would definitely recommend this major if they have the talent and the passion,  you will most probably work on topics that you used to run away from in the world, and that empty sheet or canvas will become your world to create beauty when the world around you gets bad.

What is your most important artist tool?

Headphones, some good music and my favourite brush.

What inspired the paintings  Adjustments?



In the series of paintings, I am trying to deliver how through small alterations we try to achieve an appearance to deceive those around us, to hide how we feel, while we work on the adjustments of our heart and emotions. At a first glance you will look directly at the faces which although might have some confidence and feelings of ease in them, the longer you look the more you will see that the opposite emotions of exhaustion and boredom are imprinted on these faces.

In Adjustments, it was a personal period in my life where I was going through a lot of changes and had to pull myself together to seem like everything that I wasn’t actually feeling. I often found myself when I had to go back to the university having to pull a strong face trying to convince those around me that I was totally okay.


Tell us more about Wise Mans’s Gold?

While in Wise Man’s Gold it was merely the love I have to capture portraits in the studio where it is you and the models talking about how they feel about changes that they encounter in their lives

In this series of photographs, I continue in my journey of trying to experiment and understand human’s conditions. I am portraying people feeling discomforted after finding out that they are not originally egoistic, opportunistic or self righteous creatures, which are the bad traits associated with the color gold, which is peeling off their skin, finding out that at the end of the day we are all fragile creatures, going through life in search for enlightenment and a newer, deeper understanding of the self and soul.



What message do you want to give through your art work?

In my work I portray social situations we as humans encounter on a daily basis, using the emotions that can be delivered through the eyes, and I hope they capture the viewer’s attention who will want to be told me.

What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative or what advice would you give to someone?

Take every single opportunity life throws at you, your social connections are your way into the art world as a new name.

Who are your favourite Arab artists at the moment?

Abduallah Al Omari


Find out more about Zeina on her instagram @___zeinaaa__



Celebrating Emerging Middle Eastern Creatives