Athr Gallery is proud to present ‘From Syria With Love’, a new exhibition displaying artworks by all Syrian Artists.
Jeddah, December 2012: In a prescient and timely show, ‘From Syria With Love’ sets out a vision of Syria’s considerable artistic heritage and evolution over the years. Demonstrating Athr Gallery’s strategy of collaborating with galleries and institutions across the Middle East, the show features painting and sculpture from eight Syrian artists. The exhibition is geographically framed, yet through the variety of styles, techniques and thematic approaches on display, is richly textured and diverse in form.
‘From Syria With Love’ invites audiences to experience the nation’s rich tradition of painting, drawing and sculpture, which enjoyed a vibrant renaissance in the early-mid 20th century. Western ideas inspired by Modernism became infused with traditional Syrian forms and techniques, thanks to pioneers such as Fateh Moudarres, Muhammad Tulaimat and Abdullah Murad, who like their contemporaries in Iraq and Egypt, studied abroad.
The latter two are amongst those artists featured in this exhibition, which takes a closer look at a critical era in Syrian art, where Western ideas of Modernism morphed into a distinct Syrian identity. For these artists, the pull of a new era of expression and experimentation resulted in an exciting progression in technique and narrative direction. Moving on from the work of those groundbreaking artists of the 1940s and 1950s, the new young breed of artists learnt and moved on from imported ideologies and began incorporating specific and profound motifs and iconography in response to Syria’s complex socio-political situation, and more universal meditations on nature and the environment and abstractions on love, religion, spirituality and existential angst.
In tackling these themes, a new visual language began to emerge, represented in this exhibition by the choice of participating artists. Ismail Helo’s paintings deal with light, channeling a joyous exuberance at the sunlight in his home and neighbourhood with Gaugin-esque tones and textures. This is a theme picked up on by Abdullah Murad and Malva Omar Hamdi, whose post-Impressionistic landscapes bely a dazzling palette use and spatial dynamic. Asad Arabi’s abstracted figures demonstrate the parallel growth in representations of contemporary Syrian society, ideas that lead to the darker themes of introspection, alienation and isolation that infuse pieces by Farouk Kondakji and Fadi Yazigi. Mustafa Ali, Syria’s foremost sculptor is known for elegant, monumental sculptures that pierce the consciousness and underscore the fragility of mankind. These, in turn, are balanced by Muhammad Tulaimat’s cheerily colourful and fantastical Modernist-inspired paintings.
Surveying the wealth of ideas, experimentation and development charted in ‘From Syria With Love’, one begins to understand the context of the current wave of contemporary Syrian artists who are enjoying unprecedented visibility worldwide, thanks to the recent growth of the Middle Eastern art market. Yet, as the country’s current, bitter power struggles continue, this important exhibition affords an understanding of the eloquence, passion and insight with which these artists engaged with their homeland.
Exhibition opening December 17, 2012 from 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm. Exhibition on display until January 10, 2013.