Esam Jlilati: Jewel-like Cityscapes in Watercolor & Oil

By Cassie Rief in Featured Artists > Watercolor Paintings

Esam Jlilati paints remarkably detailed pieces that smoothly transition from ancient architecture to fantastic surrealism and modern cityscapes. His seamless way of mixing these three subjects has resulted in a colorful style that’s uniquely his own.

Esam’s artistic journey began in 1995 while studying in Germany, and he is now happily settled in Toronto, Canada. His artwork, however, still travels to buyers in Germany, Austria, England, the Middle East and North America, and for good reason. See for yourself, below!

Do you ever just want to take a break from the real world? This first painting, entitled Escape From Reality, allows you to do just that.


Waves rhythmically lap against the darkened brick wall of an magical waterway taking us into the heart of this fair city. Bowing windows, sloping two-story houses and winding pathways provide interesting views into nearby homes.

Esam’s vibrant use of color and wacky, undulating lines remind me of graphics in a Dr. Seuss novel—creating a heartwarming and welcoming painting. Under the light of the moon, people sleep contentedly, knowing a peace and comfort that so often eludes us in the real world.

Next up, I think you’ll agree that the intricate detail in Oriental House (a watercolor piece, mind you!) is simply astounding. Ornate pillars, elaborate tiles and decorative accents in jeweled tones elevate this regal painting to another level.


There’s so much to look at, yet this painting still leaves you energized and fascinated with every facet of its brilliant architecture. The sense of depth that Esam included in the shadowed archways is partly responsible, bringing peace to an otherwise overwhelmingly human-orchestrated building.

Finally, Peaceful Night is yet another brilliant example of Esam’s expressionistic style, lending a completely fresh and modern take to this established neighborhood.


The colors are uplifting and bright, even at night, as if the jovialness of the street and its inhabitants cannot be contained. Restaurants and stores are completely open to the public, outwardly welcoming them with bright mats that beckon passerby in for a late night coffee or impromptu shopping trip.

Of course, these three paintings are just the beginning. Make sure to view the rest of Esam’s incredible work on his website, including his many surreal paintings and beautiful still lifes.


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