A set of 14 original photographs.
Donation Claude & France Lemand 2018.
Museum, Institut du monde arabe, Paris.
Nassouh Zaghlouleh was born in 1958 in Damascus. As a child, he loved peeking through keyholes. “That was my first camera” he smiles. Since then, he has explored Paris and Damascus and sought to portray the essence of each city in his own style.
When Zaghlouleh started studying at the Higher National School of Decorative Arts in Paris in the early 1980s, he sought to break through the stereotype of Parisian life, capturing beggars, addicts and dropouts on film. Every day for three years, he went to the same café and sat in the same corner taking pictures of the clientele. He saw the café as a stage that introduces foreign viewers like himself to the new culture they have adopted.
Though Zaghlouleh’s photos were always a celebration of life, the summer of 2006 marked an important shift in his artistic career to still lifes and abstract photos. Worn out by the war in Lebanon and the heat of the Syrian summer, he started using his mobile phone as a camera. While walking to a friend’s house in the Old City, he took some 500 photos in just 20 minutes, breaking the folkloric stereotype of Old City photos and focusing instead on the sharp contrast between shade and light and the abstract shapes this creates.
“When I was five years old, I used to go to Souq al-Hamidiyyeh with my aunts. I was fascinated by the patches of light filtering through the souq’s roof and the pattern it made on the pavement. But it wasn’t until I turned 50 that I had the courage to photograph them.”
Although Zaghlouleh dedicated his life to photography, he for a long time refused to exhibit his work, believing that the right moment hadn’t come yet. Finally, in 2007, he organised his first exhibition From Paris to Damascus, in which he showcased 30 photos of the two cities that have shaped his life. “It took me 25 years to collect the right photos of Paris. In Damascus it took just 20 minutes to find what I was looking for.”
(Nadia Muhanna, Capturing the Essence, Syria Today, 01.08.2008)