Marwan, who was born in Damascus, Syria, in 1934 and studied Arabic literature at the university there from 1955 to 1957, came to Berlin in 1957 in order to attend the painting class of Hann Trier at the Berlin University of the Arts in Charlottenburg. Berlin became his home and workplace until his death in 2016, yet he remained closely connected to the Orient. For example, in 1999 he founded the Summer Academy of the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation, Darat al Funun in Amman, Jordan. His works are prized by collectors, even in his Middle Eastern homeland, for example in Beirut. In 1966 he received the Karl Hofer Prize and taught as a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts from 1977 to 2002. He was awarded in 2005 with the Prize of the Forum Culturel Libanais and the Federal Cross of Merit. He had his last retrospective in 2009 at the Haus am Waldsee in Berlin on the occasion of his 75th birthday.
Marwan built a biographical and artistic bridge between East and West, between his native country of Syria and his adopted home, Germany. German Expressionism as well as oriental Sufi mysticism unmistakably influenced his work. His early works include, above all, figurative, sur¬real depictions of human beings. From the early 1970s, he increasingly concentrated on the face, a subject with which he explored his own self, inner state of mind and spirituality. With coarse brushstrokes and Impasto paint application of red-brown, ochre, grey and black nuances, he created single or double portraits that come across as flickering landscapes. Barely tangible, re-emerging at every glance and without any individual characteristics, they symbolise the constant internal and external mutability of mankind. Also in his “Marionettes” series (around 1980), the bold colours, applied with a nervous brushstroke, pulsate. Just as the faces in the paintings be-come landscapes, the dolls, some of which are depicted in dislocated poses, turn into still lifes.