A Kurdish Artist Documents a City Through Art

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By Savan Abdulrahman

Sabat Ebbas is a young contemporary artist born in 1992 in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan. She spends her days working on illustrated art pieces inspired by her city’s culture. “For me, art expresses emotions and views that are otherwise hidden in day-to-day life,” says Sabat.

“Avesta’s Smile” is one of Sabat’s artworks, in remembrance of Avesta Veshkhapur, a young fighter from the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) who was killed during Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch. Avesta was born in 1998 in Afrin and joined the YPJ in 2014.


In an interview with MedyaNews, Sabat said: “Avesta was a symbol of Kurdistan’s brave women. Drawing her on one of South Kurdistan’s cinema halls was an honour for me. I drew the graphic in front of an audience who came to attend an event at the cinema on the resistance of Rojava fighters.”

Cinema Salim and Avesta

“A director from prison” is a series of illustrations of Yılmaz Güney by Sabat published in DidiMn.com, a Kurdish cultural website. Güney was a Turkish-Kurdish film director, screenwriter, novelist, and actor of Kurdish descent. Many of his works were devoted to the plight of ordinary, working-class people in Turkey.

A director from prison – Yılmaz Güney

Yılmaz Güney

Sabat combines between reality and imagination to better engage with her audience. “Love and Society” is another series of Sabat, in which she focuses on the emotions of two people who are in a relationship.

She raises such questions such as: What do the characters feel or sense when they are in love? What do they feel when they fight with each other? What do they feel when they are on the edge of separation? Sabat said: “I draw both characters separately to express their unexpressed emotions.”

Love and Society

“In Kurdistan, young girls hide their feelings for those whom they love so they aren’t killed by society: parents, brothers and relatives.” said Sabat. “I draw love to show people its innocence and pureness. I want to introduce love to them, and them to love.”

Love and Society

Zhian is one of Sabat’s illustrated music videos, in which she depicts Salim Street, a popular street in the Sulaymaniyah. Selim Street is a lively area, where workers, tourists, and young people go to eat, drink tea or coffee, and just hang out.

Zhian – Life

Sabat wanted to document Selim Street through art so that future generations could see how it looked. Sabat said: “One of the challenges I faced while working on the illustrations was that I had to draw chairs, food carriages and other small details, but during that time the governor had ordered that all the chairs and food carriages be removed in order to make more room for the crowds.” 

Sabat is greatly influenced by poetry: She captures a couple lines or words from a poem and turns their idea into illustrated pieces. Sherko Bekas, a very well-known Kurdish contemporary poet, has been a source of inspiration for her.

Sabat Ebbas

Sabat graduated from the College of Fine Arts at the University of Sulaymaniyah. She is currently an art teacher. She went beyond society’s expectations of how a woman should work and what academic degree she should achieve and instead forged her own path. “According to my society, if a girl joins the College of Fine Arts, she will not have a good reputation. But I still did it.”


Source – MedyaNews: https://medyanews.net/a-kurdish-artist-documenting-a-city-through-art/