Modern Art from Syria: “Painting is a Homeland”


Cultural Councilor Kaup-Hasler opened the group exhibition of seven Syrian artists in the “Kleine Galerie” in Wien, Austria, on October 24, 2018.

Modern Art from Syria – “Painting is a Homeland”: Under this title, the “Kleine Galerie” in Wien, Austria, showed works by seven artists in exile. They use a foreign, but then again familiar visual language, which draws from personal experiences, memories and stories. The largely expressive way of painting allows the conveyance of emotions, but also leaves room for maneuver. For many of the artists, as well as their own cultural tradition, the dealing with Western art also plays a role. 80 percent of Syrian artists have gone into exile, because art needs freedom. But art also represents a path to freedom.

Before the outbreak of the violent conflict in 2011, the contemporary art scene in Syria enjoyed relative freedom in expression. Of course, it was limited in its thematic range: content with political, religious or sexually connotation was not desired. The Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Damascus offered classes in painting, visual communication, sculpture, interior design, graphics (including printmaking) and wall painting. In addition, the faculty’s claim was to work scientifically. Not only the millennia-old culture, but also the very current contemporary art were present in Syria.

The “Kleine Galerie” featured works by Adel Dauood, Farouk Muhammad, Huda Takriti, Maram Matouk, Mohamad Kuty and Ramadan Hussien. Some of them have studied together or even taught at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Damascus. All have regularly exhibited their works in various galleries and showrooms internationally.

We saw painfully distorted bodies and heads, but also love-seekers reduced to the essentials (Ramadan Hussien), naive and intense portraits (Mohamad Kuty), dense forests and other natural landscapes, which dissolve in colorful color structures (Farouk Muhammad). We saw partly very young artists, such as Huda Takriti and Maram Matouk, who are looking for a new home in Austria and who bring us their own culture: “Painting is a Homeland” is a quote by Vincent Van Gogh, which for many of them is an important guiding principle and therefore also the logical title of the exhibition.

The exhibition will tour Austria in 2019.

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