Connecticut-based Syrian-born artist Mohamad Hafez (previously) uses found objects, paint, and scrap metal to create architectural dioramas of Middle Eastern urban environments. The photorealistic miniatures are packed with detail and speak to the political and social issues plaguing the artist’s war-torn homeland.
An architect by trade, Hafez imagines and builds cross-sections of streets and structures covered in grime and graffiti. Situated within suitcases and picture frames, the wall-mounted pieces are meant to be viewed and considered up close. Exposed rusty pipes, rubble, and weathered doorways of the crumbling nation are contrasted by hopeful verses from the Quran. The streetscapes, according to statement on the artist’s website, combine Hafez’s interests in street art and activism. While feeling helpless to bring about meaningful changes in Syria, his intention with the dioramas is to “expose the Middle East’s conflicts to the world in a modest, artistic approach to appeal to a wider contemporary audience.”
Harold J. Miossi Art Gallery at Cuesta College is currently hosting a Retrospective exhibition of Hafez’s work through December 20, 2019. His miniatures can also be seen at The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago as their first “interpreter-in-residence.” To dive deeper into Hafez’s miniature worlds, follow the artist on Instagram.