This exhibition aims to explore conflict zones and to see the people of Syria through art. Most of the 19 artists featured here still live in Syria. They come from places made familiar through news reports like Aleppo and Homs. Many are now in Damascus. Some have left Syria altogether.
The works all reference the devastating situation in Syria or are informed by it. Humam Alsalim and Rami Bakhos’ Cultural Beheading series mourns and rages against both literal and metaphorical destruction. The body parts in Omran Younis’s paintings are a graphic reminder of the horrors of war. Those depicted in Lina Malki’s Displaced series have a palpable sorrow. Fadi al-Hamwi’s large paintings of X-rayed cow hybrids convey animalistic brutality and how war provokes and exposes the dark side of humanity. Khaled Dawwa’s clay sculptures that appear to be vandalized or corroded by time are informed by his own experience: He was injured in a 2013 bombing, then arrested, imprisoned, and now exiled. Khaled Yousseff’s photographs of bubbles are tragic in their fragility yet childlike, as the artist says, make bubbles not war.
This exhibition is not for the faint of heart, but it also affirms the incredible capacity of the human spirit to not only survive the most unimaginable circumstances, but thrive. For those still living in Syria there are few opportunities to exhibit and as such they have nothing left to lose and are making art for the sake of art. Individually and collectively their powerful work stands as a testament to their existence and hopefully will inspire similar voices not only in Syria but also here in Canada. This exhibition is meant to build a greater understanding of the Syrian People, their art, rich culture, history and the turmoil their country is undergoing.
This exhibition was curated by Paul Crawford, Art Gallery of Penticton and Humam Alsalim, Cyrrus Gallery of Contemporary Syrian Art.