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Abdulkader Arnaout is one of the renowned artists of the 20th century in Syria and in the Arab world. He was born in Damascus-Syria on Feb 11, 1936 to a family of immigrants from Kosovo. Arnaout passion for arts began at a very young age when he started showing interest in Arabic calligraphy, drawings and designs.

As a teenager, in the 1950s, Arnaout participated in several collective art exhibitions. He also designed many artworks for the 1st Damascus International Fair that took place in Damascus in 1954 and quickly became the go to artist to design the fair’s annual posters.

In 1960 he became the chief designer of titles for Syrian T.V. His works were the first thing to appear on the Syrian TV when it started broadcasting in 1960; These designs were of a significant importance to him because it allowed the Syrian public to get an early exposure to the Arabic font that Arnaout invented, and kept on improving until mid 1980s, and made it a great hit for those wanting to design posters for their events.

On March 1, 1961, Arnaout had his first solo exhibition in Damascus at the newly inaugurated gallery of Global Modern Arts (صالة الفن الحديث العالمي).

His second solo exhibition followed the year after in 1962 just right before he traveled to Italy to study fine arts at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma, Italy, where he would spend the next 5 years of his life.

After graduating with a Diploma in Decorative Arts in 1964, Arnaout started working as a designer with Rome subsidiary of the U.S. McGaughy, Marshall & McMillan.

When he returned to Syria, in 1967, he worked as a instructor at the faculty of Fine Arts and at the Applied Arts Center in Damascus; Arnaout had also a great role in advancing the art movement in the country. He founded the art section in the Department of Educational Publications at the Ministry of Education.

In 1970, ten artists from Syria, including Arnaout, founded what is came to be known as Group of Ten (مجموعة العشرة). These artists were; Abdulkader Arnaout, Elias Zaiat, Asaad Orabi, Khuzaima Ulwani, Naim Ismail, Ghiath Al-Akhrass, Nathir Nab’a, Ahman Draq Sibai, Nashat Al-Zoubi, & Ghassan Sibai. The group had several exhibition in Syria, Lebanon and other countries, which inspired 10 Lebanese artists, including Faysal Sultan, to form their own group of ten in the early 1970s.

In 1971 Arnaout enrolled at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, France, and graduated with a Diplôme in Visual Communications in 1973.

Between 1974 and 1982 he continued to work as a professor at the faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus and did a lot of freelance artistic and consulting work. He also held the position of chairman of the Department of Decorative Arts Section between the years 1974 – 1978.

In the 1980s Arnaout’s works saw a lot of prosperity. He organized several solo art exhibitions for his paintings and graphic works, and participated in several international art tours.

In 1990 he became Chairman of the Department of Visual Communications Section, which he had created, at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus. That year, private companies and businesses were allowed to operate in Syria, under what came to be known as “Law Number 10”. Being the father of graphic design in Syria, most of these newly established companies sought Arnaout’s talent to design their companies’ logos and their printed advertising campaigns.

At only 56 years of age, Arnaout passed away on the night of August 13th, 1992, leaving behind an impressive diverse art portfolios and an amazing legacy to cherish.

Extra Notes:

For years, Arnaout worked on enhancing the font he had created in the 1950s and by the late 1980s he was able to finalize two versions of it, one for printing and one for design. The two fonts were registered and patented in Syria.

Arnaout was very passionate about developing new techniques in graphic design, which he successfully achieved in mid 1980s. He invented a way to print and demonstrate drafts of his designs to his clients for a fairly low cost, that is all before personal computers and printing machines became dominant.

Visit the Major Milestones page to learn more about the major milestones in Arnaout’s professional life.



  • Diploma in Decorative Arts – Accademia di Belle Arti, Rome – Italy 1964.
  • Diplôme in Visual Communications – Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris – France 1973.

Positions Held

  • 1954-1961 Surveyor, Department of Statistics, Damascus – Syria.
  • 1961-1962 Employee in the Department of Fine Arts, Ministry of Culture Damascus – Syria.
  • 1968 Teacher in Applied Arts Center, Damascus – Syria.
  • 1969-1974 Instructor, Faculty of Fine Arts, Damascus – Syria.
  • 1974-1982 Assistant Professor, Faculty of Fine Arts, Damascus – Syria.
  • 1974-1978, Head, Department of Decorative Arts Section.
  • 1982-1988 Associate Professor, Faculty of Fine Arts, Damascus – Syria.
  • 1988 Professor, Faculty of Fine Arts, Damascus – Syria.
  • 1990 Head, Department of Visual Communications Section

Prizes and Awards

  • 1959 Three first prizes for the design of 3 cigarette boxes, Damascus.
  • 1962 First prize for poster design, “7th Cotton Festival” Aleppo -Syria.
  • 1964 First prize for poster design,”Premio Citta di Trevi” Rome – Italy.
  • 1965 First prize for poster design,”2a Mostra dell’Antiquariato Romano”. Rome – Italy.
  • 1969 Certificate of appreciation from the Ministry of Culture, Syria
  • 1973 Acknowledgement award in Cagne-Sur-Mer Painting Festival, France
  • 1980 Certificate of appreciation for artistic activities from the Supreme council of Sciences, Damascus – Syria.
  • 1987 Personal letter of thanks from the Minister of Tourism, Syria.
  • 1989 Acknowledgement award in Kuwait Biennial of Painting.


  • 1960-1962 Short stories,(written & translated) in local newspapers.
  • 1970 Collection of Poems in Arabic, “Ash on Cold Ground”.
  • 1971-1972 Articles as art critic in Al-Talee’a magazine, Damascus. “Articles covered various subjects such as visual arts, applied arts, theater, and music”
  • 1974-1975 Text books and monographs for students of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Damascus, covering several fields, History of Styles, Interior Design, Graphic Design and Advertising.


Solo Exhibitions of Painting in Damascus:

  • 1961, 1962, 1967, 1977, 1985 and 1988.

Solo Exhibitions of Graphic Works:

  • Damascus: 1971 and 1988.
    Prishtine, Kosova (Yugoslavia), 1979.

Major Collective Foreign Exhibitions:

  • Rome 1963, 1964 (including Venice Biennal 1964).
  • Beirut 1970
  • Paris 1973, 1977, 1979.
  • Amman 1988
  • Kuwait 1989
  • Touring exhibition of Syrian Art in Europe 1976 – 1977.
  • Poster biennial in Warsaw – Poland 1984, 1986.
  • Poster biennial in Lahti – Finland 1987.

Other Professional Experiences

  • 1960 Designer of titles for Syrian T.V.
  • 1961 Designer of dancing costumes for the folk group ( Umayya ) Damascus-Syria. “Designs derived from popular dresses’ patterns”.
  • 1962 Consultant and designer, Pavillion of the Ministry of Culture in the Damascus International Fair.
  • 1960-1962 Designer of costumes and settings for the theatre, “Antigone”, “Les Precieuses Redicules”, “Les Fausses Confidences”, “Twelfth Night”.
  • 1964-1966 Designer with Rome subsidiary of the U.S. McGaughy, Marshall & McMillan.
  • Served as member of team for preliminary survey in Tripoli district-Libya, Prior to general planning project. “Survey included verification of sites and sensing people’s interests”.
  • Decoration of inner panels with ceramic tiles bearing Arabic calligraphy and design of outer door for a mosque in the city of El-Marj – Libya. Design of water fountains in squares in the city of El-Marj – Libya.
  • 1967 Founder of art section in the Department of Educational Publications, Ministry of Education,
  • 1969 Consultant to glass blowers in Damascus for developing new designs.
  • 1969 Designer of the Syrian Fair in Kuwait, “El-Shweikh” including industrial and handicraft products.
  • 1974 Advertising consultant for the Syrian Arab Airlines.
  • 1974 Arabic calligraphy services for McGaughy, Marshall, McMillan.
  • 1975 Athens – Greece, and in 1975 for Caudill Rowlett Scott,
  • 1976 Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
  • 1976 Consulting services and Arabic calligraphy for Amati & Cocchia, Architects and Engineers, Rome – Italy, for the design of the new building of the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus.
  • 1978 Designer of Canada’s Pavillion in Damascus Flower Show.
  • 1981 Consulting services and practical work to create the image of Al-Nawras publishing house, Beirut – Lebanon, including shape, size and the way of binding of publications and books.
  • 1982 Consulting services for choosing slides and photographs of Syria for the Ministry of Tourism, Syria.
  • 1985 Design of Prize, for the 3rd Arab T.V. Festival in Tunis. The shape inspired from a Mamlouk brass lamp in Cairo.
  • 1985 Design of Medal, for the 25th anniversary of Syrian T.V.
  • 1985 Design of a key-board for a double touch computer for “BABCOMP”, Damascus. Design realized by Monotype-England.
  • 1987 Graphic design of symbols for the Xth Mediterranean Games, Syria. ” Symbols derived from the Ugaritic alphbet”.
  • Poster design for the Damascus International Fair: 1968, 1969, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1987, 1988 and 1989. And many poster designs for theater, music, ballet and other festivals.