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  • Writer's picturePaul G. Chandler

Baba’s Art School – 101: #17

“You can’t begin too soon to encourage an appreciation of art! And each artwork has a story.”

Baba showing his grandkids "The Tree" by Yasser Rostom

It seemed most apropos at this time of the year, when both religious and ethnic conflict is widespread (i.e. Gaza) and when religious seasons are underway in the Abrahamic faith traditions, for this Baba to draw his grandkids’ attention to this inspiring artwork by Egyptian artist Yasser Rostom.


Yasser Rostom is my favorite contemporary surrealist (think Salvador Dali) artist. This particular painting titled “The Tree” was first exhibited in a CARAVAN exhibition titled “The Bridge” that toured parts of the Middle East, Europe and the US. It has since then been exhibited in many sacred spaces around North America.

Known as the “Egyptian Dali,” Yasser Rostom was born in Cairo, Egypt and graduated with a Master’s degree in Ancient Egyptian Art from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Helwan University. A master of surrealism, Rostom draws stunning imagery that is a blend of ancient and modern to compose the surreal. An enthusiast of pen and ink, his art often addresses themes of humanity, myth, and power. His works are a dazzling mixture of icons, images, and symbols representing a critical view on the world in which we live. Staying true to his roots and the Pharaonic art that is a part of his culture, he creates art that has universal appeal.

Yasser Rostom, “The Tree,” 2015, Ink on Paper, 60 x 80 cm

The message of this particular piece, titled “The Tree,” couldn’t be more relevant for our time. His commentary on the artwork is prophetic, and deeply inspiring.


Here is Yasser Rostom’s Artist Statement for “The Tree”: 


“The base of this bridge is the very tree of life that all humans have come from. At the center of this tree of life are Adam and Eve. The branches coming out of the tree represent those of all religions (whether known and declared like Islam, Christianity and Judaism, or unknown religions which are represented by the empty branch). Whatever our religion, we are all seeking the light, the Divine Being or God. I have been inspired in this part by Michelangelo’s ‘The Creation of Adam.’ The love between Adam and Eve is not a love out of choice but a love out of need. They need each other to survive. They are both part of the same tree. In the painting they are each covering the other’s genitals. They are protecting each other. Like Adam and Eve, all humans need each other. With all our faults and differences, we need each other to survive. The black background at the top of the painting represents my extreme sadness at the current situation of the world, and all the wars and atrocities committed in the name of religion.”


PS: My three-year old grandson found it most interesting that the figures were not wearing any clothes! :)

About this artwork:

Yasser Rostom, “The Tree,” 2015

Ink on Paper, 60 x 80 cm


To learn more about Yasser Rostom and his art:

See a short video with Yasser Rostom: 

Instagram: @artistrostom


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