Exhibition Dates: 7th December 2021 - 7th January 2022




Curator: Mishelle Brito

Artists: Rayan Rahal


Sur-Urbans is a digital art series reflecting the emotions perceived by the living environment among the informal settlements of Damascus, Syria. The digital images serve to document the various layers of the city and are inspired by surrealism and the artist’s love of  architecture. Within each image exists a reflection of the surreal conditions, and continuous feelings of complexity & chaos, in addition to the ‘informal’ nature of the settlements including: unlivable conditions, lack of infrastructure, and shortage in services to communities. However, they also reveal an overwhelming beauty: architectural quality, sense of community, resilience, & the potential (both physical and human) of each space. 

The artist further unveils a more focused, detailed layer to the exhibition, creating an extension of the online exhibition space, in the form of a virtual reality (VR) room. The virtual room thus exists as a digital archive of Damascus’ informal settlements serving to preserve the physical details of the spaces.

Through these digital spaces, Sur-Urbans aims to redirect the feelings and emotions of the populations who live within these settlements, directing them internally to the architectural structures themselves, manifesting life, and meaning, perpetuating the stories of those who inhabit them.


About the Artist

Rayan Rahal is a photographer and digital artist and holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Damascus University. He is currently the visual content creation manager at the Syrian Association for Education Development and works as a freelance photographer, graphic designer and 3D artist. His work have been exhibited in Geneva, Canada and Damascus. He experiments with different types of mediums to express his art message. In his work he tries to explore how the city and living environment influences human beings.


About React

reACT is an innovative program, established by P21 Gallery to promote and support emerging and student artists whose work is dedicated to or inspired by the Middle East & Arab world by providing a space within the P21 Gallery and/or P21 Gallery website for an artistic intervention. reACT aims to contribute in building and strengthening cultural ties and dialogues between the East and West on terms designed by a younger generation.



Mishelle Brito is a London based artistic programmer and curator working to create dialogues relating to societal concerns in the Middle East through art, culture and creative based methods.


P21 Gallery

P21 is an independent London-based charitable trust established to promote contemporary Middle Eastern and Arab art and culture. 


Press information

For further information, press images and interview opportunities, please contact reACT Programme Manager & Curator, Mishelle Brito at:



The exhibition is a reACT project and supported by the Art Council England and HUB Collective.