What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.
“True Colors of Society, Hope and Survival” a group exhibition of 3 young Syrian artists Anas Homsi, Fadi Al-Hamwi and Wissam Shaabi at Joanna Seikaly Gallery, Beirut – Lebanon, featuring a collection of modern & contemporary artworks by artists depicting an optimistic view of reality in Syria.
The exhibition is conceptually divided into three ideas each artist showcased in his artworks, representing their different visions on what is currently happening in Syria; Survival by Anas Homsi, Hope by Wissam Shaabi and Society by Fadi Al Hamwi.
Artist Anas Homsi (25 years old) presented his “Survival” vision on Syria with abstract paintings though full of life strong colors, there is bitterness lays within the thick layers of paints. Homsi randomly mixes colors and later form an oval childish figures constantly struggling to reach an end, or deeply in love surrounded with chaos, people living their normal life regardless of a dead body regardless of the dead body in the play ground (Play in the City – below).
In his painting ‘Noah’s Ark’ (above) Homsi depicts the attempt to..
“rescue the world from sudden death caused not by destiny but by a bomb explosion or rocket or snipers shot… This is an unfair death for innocents, people who are not in flavor to any party in wars and conflicts, people who are died in ‘Coercive Death’ deserve a chance to live and survive.”
Artist Wissam Shaabi (26 years old) pictures his understanding of “Hope” in also another collection of abstract paintings of areas, buildings and people, large figure molding into houses or valley all on artworks filled with colors and intentionally leaving white space, this space either represents an erase of ‘things’ or peace upon the destructed places.
Shaabi pictures a dream of how life used to be before the war in his homeland, Syria, and perhaps how he wants it to become when the war is over. ‘Hope’ is painted not only in people but also in the streets and cities, despite the fact it’s destroyed by war, it carry the strong desire of rebuild and relive again.
Fadi Al Hamwi (26 years old) gave a different perspective; more realistic yet in a colorful scheme, the artist takes you on a journey to country & its’ people anatomy wrecked by war. Al Hamwi depicts the society in a man with a gas mask on helpless to survive the unpleasant and forced changes in ‘Syrian Global Warming’ (above) as global warming is uncontrolled, drastic change that is forced on all nations, just like any war. Also in ‘Stink Bomb’ (below) the artists exposes the contradictions caused by circumstances, the title emphasize the hedioes outcome of explosions in the bare flesh and bones and broken leg but still the figure carries a flower. He could be a soldier obeying rules no matter if they are against his own well, or someone denying the catastrophe regardless of his own wounds.
Al Hamwi goes deeper in his exposé in both ‘Silence’ and ‘Curiosity’ featuring in both paintings an owl, a symbol of wisdom in west and ominous in Middle East, but here the paintings indicate the ‘third party’ in any war, not involved directly with destruction or glory of it because they are either anticipating who will win then take their side as shown in ‘Curiosity’ owl with wide open eyes. Whereas in ‘Silence’ the owl carry a flower and eyes are blurred in black, indicating perhaps the silent party in any conflict where they disconnect themself from surrounding disasters and isolate in a bubble until it is over.
The journey ends with ‘A Head in the Bomb’ (below) painting of xray reveals a smashed skull with blue gun inside the head, portraying one’s darkest thoughts driven by unbearable situations and finds his redemption in ending his life. It is the only artwork among Al Hamwi’s painted in black and the gun in shimmer blue; as glorying and comforting the idea might appeal, it is definitely a coward yet pity decision to take…
“We are witnessing something unreal in Syria, the destruction, death toll, sound of rockets, bomb explosions you can’t even define its location or how far it is from my studio or house! This is all new to me, as a person, Syrian and artist… I can’t describe how it feels, I find my salvation in art, stating the feelings I can’t explain of a view too ugly to absorb!”
Fadi Al Hamwi
As I said, the artworks showcased in ‘True Color’ are all different in concepts and medium yet all fall under one rhythm. The exhibition didn’t feel crowded or over jammed with irrelevant works though each artist worked separately they manage to create one theme. Artworks varied from symbolism to realism, Anas Homsi, Fadi Al Hamwi and Wissam Shaabi brought out visions and perspectives of younger generation on Syria: devastated by war, looking for endurance and holding on idea of brighter peaceful tomorrow.
‘True Colors of Society, Hope and Survival’ is running until November 17, 2012 at Joanna Seikaly Art Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon.