Jaafari, Nazem al- (1918--) By Lenssen, Anneka
Al-Jaafari was one of the first painters in Syria to achieve recognition as a professional artist. Pursuing a semi-romantic realist style for the whole of his career, he specializes in portraits and drawings of old Damascus. Born in Damascus, Syria, Al-Jaafari’s formative years were characterized by a restless search to attain advanced training. He went to Turkey in 1941, but returned to Syria, where he attended some of the earliest civic art clubs in Damascus including Studio Veronese (est. 1941) and the Association of Arab Arts (est. 1943). In 1944 he traveled to Cairo to study oil painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, completing a degree in 1947. He would travel again in 1953–54, moving to Brazil for a year before returning to Syria permanently. In Damascus, he taught at secondary schools, briefly taught at the College of Fine Arts before resigning, completed a vast body of landscape and portrait paintings, and executed a number of commissions for postage stamps and medals. Because of his career-long commitment to realistic painting, Jaafari’s work frequently featured in Syrian exhibitions sent to the countries of the Soviet bloc.