ART & CULTURE

Assil Diab: The Artist Who Always Stood Up for Sudan

Assil Diab is a graffiti artist and graphic designer born in Bucharest, Romania. She later moved to Qatar, where her talent became quickly recognized as her expertise became apparent in her work.

In 2019, Assil Diab returned to Khartoum and quickly went viral for her graffiti art. Her work was widely recognized and sought out even before she went viral for her efforts in resistance against the Sudanese government. She worked on her graffiti in the name of the innocent Sudanese citizens killed during peaceful protests.

Assil Diab #blueformattar

At an early age, Assil Diab moved to Qatar. She graduated with a fine arts degree in graphic design in the United States in Richmond, Virginia. Following her graduation, Assil worked as a graphic designer as well as a graffiti artist. Known for her bold art, she went on to be called the first female graffiti artist in Sudan and Qatar. Assil went on to work for multiple companies and organizations, where her gift for graffiti and graphic designing was quickly recognized.

Assil Diab painting the streets of Sudan
Assil Diab painting the streets of Sudan

Assil’s work had a range like no other. Her expertise in art and creativity allowed her to take up multiple jobs. She worked at Zoul Projects as a graphic designer for MENA’s TOP Designer; a show later aired on MBC4. From organizing fashion shows to a photographer to a choreographer. Her work allowed her to gain multiple experiences from different aspects of her life, contributing to her popularity as an artist. She worked at Qatar red crescent as a branding and promotion manager before working as a freelance graffiti artist.

Assil Diab Amidst the Sudanese Revolution

In 2019, when the Sudanese revolution took place, Assil took an art project to honor Sudan’s protesting citizens. Her aim was clear to her. With her graffiti murals, she intended to highlight the deaths of those killed during the revolution. Assil wanted to be the voice of those who couldn’t speak. Assil wielded her brush and created murals of the victims in their homes. Her message was loud, and it was clear. She wanted accountability, and she wanted it now.

Assil Diab with the mother of one of the killed youth during the Sudanese revolution
Assil Diab with the son of one of the killed people

The work Assil Diab set out to do was in no way safe. Amidst a revolution that was taking lives, she had one purpose in mind. She had a wall to paint. The state ordered a nationwide crackdown on all protests. Many lost their lives, but Assil wasn’t deterred. She was cautious, and she was determined. The protests began in April 2019. During this time, Assil essentially painted portraits of those murdered unjustly by the forces of the state. This took place until the removal of Omar-al Bashir, the president of Sudan at the time. Following this removal, Assil set out the paint Khartoum blue. 

Assil Diab and the painting of the singer Mahmoud Abdelaziz
Assil Diab with Mahjoub family

#BlueForSudan

With Sudan immersed in nationwide internet lockdown, awareness went down. No one had any idea of what the hashtag #BlueForSudan meant. It was a hashtag that had gone viral worldwide, yet the people in question weren’t aware of it. Asil was aware of the issue and was determined to change that. With that aim in mind, Assil proceeded to cover the city of Khartoum in the color blue. Blue represented the Sudanese uprising, and people worldwide were starting to raise their voices for the people of Sudan.

Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim painted by Assil Diab
Assbil Diab and one of her graffiti works

Assil Diab, armed with her vibrant art and determined heart and mind,  became well known as her art took over walls. Old revolutionary songs and poems were chanted out; these were the voice of the people.

Assil Diab and Mattar

A British Sudanese engineer, who Assil briefly met in a sit-in protest in Al Qiyada, was killed during a violent episode at the sit-in. At the time, his social media profile had been blue. So started a revolution to represent and all those killed in the name of the state’s forces. As the world started changing their profiles to blue, Assil didn’t sit back. With buckets of blue paint at her disposal, she set off to paint in honor of the fellow. Her resolute actions have put her in danger with the state. Like others killed in the journey, she didn’t want to die at the state’s forces’ hands. This made her grow cautious of her surroundings at all costs. However, she was a force to be reckoned with and didn’t deter from her path.

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Assil Diab with the mother of one of the killed youth during the revolution

But she couldn’t avoid the state’s forces forever. They would frequently come banging at her door to intimidate her with their guns pointed at her door. They wanted to scare her into submission, but Assil wasn’t discouraged. But it wasn’t only her life that was in danger of being part of the artistic resistance. She was determined as well as cautious. 

The Resistance

Assil Diab wasn’t only painting when it came to her work. What was the point if nobody knew what the painting meant? Assil and the team would take turns explaining their paintings’ meanings to people who lived in the area and would come up to Assil and her team to ask about the paintings and their meaning. The purpose of the murals and what the color blue represented. What the internet couldn’t do at the moment, Assil and her team went out to do. 

Assil Diab was a part of a movement that had great significance. As she went off with her aims in mind, she gathered along a team with similar mindsets. Her work quickly became viral across the world. Her aim was realization, enlightenment, and justice for her fellow Sudanese. Assil became the voice of those who couldn’t speak for themselves. The Sudanese forces had tried their hardest to intimidate the citizens into submission. However, Assil wasn’t intimidated. She created awareness and realization in places people had given up.

Corona Times

Assil wasn’t one to sit idle. As the world revolved and issues would come to light, she would be there to raise her voice for the people and help them in any way she could. So with the spread of Covid-19 and the danger it presented, Assil didn’t stay behind. She raised awareness of what was important during these unprecedented times. Because of her efforts and unrivaled determination and talent, she won a dissemination award from UNESCO and i4policy are 2019 for her work in Sudan to help raise awareness on the coronavirus and the significance of staying home.

Assil Diab Painting the Khartoum Zoo
Wear Your Mask campaign against corona virus

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