The recent works by Syrian artist Thaier Helal on display in a monographic exhibition at the Ayyam Gallery, bearing the evocative title Abyss, are focused on the rapport between light and darkness. To truly comprehend the work of an artist like Thaier Helal, it is important to consider his biography and the landscapes of his native country because, as he himself declares, “When you grow up in a place like that nature is inside of you, you see everything in a certain way, a certain light.” Born to a family of farmers in Southwest Syria, where his precocious artistic talent was greeted with surprise and skepticism, Helal had to struggle for the chance to become what he is today. First, with clandestine visits to the museums of Damascus, then his managing to enrol in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Damascus where a subsequent meeting with Mahmoud Hammad, pioneer of Syrian modern art, proved fundamental. Then there was the equally important encouragement from an artist like Hassan Sharif, who Helal had the opportunity of meeting at the start of the 1990s when he moved from Syria to Sharjah. Here, he found the resources and support which allowed him to concentrate on his work, experimenting and growing artistically, becoming, in the last twenty years, a key player on the contemporary abstract art scene of the Middle East.