Abdelké, Youssef (1951--) By Mejcher-Atassi, Sonja
Abdelké was born in Qameshli, Syria, in 1951. He graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus in 1976. Politically active as a member of the League of Communist Action (later renamed the Communist Labour Party), which was banned by the Syrian regime, he was imprisoned for two years and then left for France, where he continued his studies. He graduated with a diploma in etching from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1986, and obtained a PhD in Plastic Arts from the University VIII in Paris in 1989. After more than twenty-five years in exile, he returned to Damascus in 2005, where he continues to live and work today.
Abdelké gives preference to drawing over painting. He has worked in different media, but has mainly focused on charcoals on paper. His drawings show still lifes: flowers, dead fish and birds, fruit, and everyday objects such as shoes, teapots, plates, and knives, with which he manages to express human tragedy in manifold ways. Closely linked to aesthetic concerns, the works explore, in the basic media of charcoal and paper, dimensions of art that have been neglected with the introduction of Western techniques—namely perspective—into modern artistic practices in the Arab world. In particular, they draw on concepts of one dimensionality and the flat surface, features that dominated Islamic miniature painting.