By Steve Overmyer

PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Every artist wants their work to be appreciated. But one frustrated artist from New Jersey takes a different approach.

As CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reported, this artist destroys his work.

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(credit: CBS2)

A basement in South Paterson, New Jersey has become a sanctuary for transformation.

“I call myself tragedy of art,” said Said Elatab. “The art is the only way I can express my feeling.”

Elatab is from Lebanon. His colorful work was designed to deal with his pain.

His art went on display at a local gallery. But when nobody showed up, he did the unimaginable.

Elatab took it all down and burned it.

“Everybody talking about, ‘He burned his painting. He’s crazy. He’s disturbed. He snapped.’ But people, they start talking about it,” he told Overmyer.

(credit: CBS2)

Elatab burns his paintings as a response to how his Arab community views his art.

“They say when I do nude pictures, they criticize me, tell me ‘This is forbidden, it’s haraam.’ In Islam, you’re not supposed to do that,” Elatab said. “So what’s wrong with nude painting? Nothing wrong with it.”

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Elatab has lost multiple family members to tragedy and violence. His outlet is oil on canvas.

“The only way I can fight depression is through my art,” he said. “Because I hurt a lot, I express myself through my art.”

Art is art if is causes and emotional reaction – good or bad. When Elatab burns his art, it allows him to be in control of that fear.

(credit: CBS2)

“How does art help you heal?” Overmyer asked.

“It heal me a lot. Especially when I do nice art,” Elatab said. “When you go through a tragedy, heavy tragedy in your life, you have to react. Some people, they just get depressed.”

“I live in tragedy. I have to create art with it,” he said.

“What do you see when you see your art?” said Overmyer.

“I see it’s a message,” said Elatab. “We are the Arab people, we are artists too.”

You can find Elatab’s art at his stand in SoHo – if he doesn’t burn it first.

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He said he’s never tried to sell any burned art. Instead, he replaces it by painting a new piece.

Steve Overmyer