From Syria with Love: letters bearing art in war

January 2, 2013 - Afra Naushad for Arab News

A neatly stacked bundle of letters, all addressed “From Syria With Love,” wait to be picked, peeled and opened by anticipating viewers who enter the premises of Athr Gallery, which is currently running an exhibition of Syrian artists.

The group of prominent artists, which includes Abdullah Murad, Asad Arabi, Fadi Yazigi, Farouk Kondakji, Ismail El Helou, Malva Omar Hamda, Mohammed Tlemat and Mustafa Ali, all arranged for their artworks to be sent for the exhibition in Jeddah while under the trying circumstances in their home country. Facilitators at Athr Gallery struggled to pull through having faced difficulties from the displacement of one of the artists in the war, alleged to have gone missing.

Postcards from Syria carry creative messages of hope and anguish

December 24, 2012 - By Roberta Fedele for Saudi Gazette

Artworks’ of globally renowned artists Monif Ajaj, Farouk Kondakji, Mustafa Ali, Abdullah Murad, Asaad Arabi, Mohammed Tulaimat, Ismail El Helou, Fadi Yazigi, and “Malva” Omar Hamdi are on display at the exhibition.

Their artworks not only showcase variety of styles, techniques and thematic approaches but also eloquence, passion and insight of what the contemporary Syrian artists are capable of in a period of bitter political instability and struggle of freedom for Syria and its people.
The artists’ 36 artworks, comprising 28 paintings and eight bronze and wooden sculptures, were developed between 1992 to 2012 and focus on universal themes such as nature, love, spirituality and the human condition reflecting on Syria’s complex socio-political situation.

ak 2

Assorted art exhibitions in the western coast stirs the inhabitant and disagreements melt

December 21, 2012 - Al Jazirah

كعادتها جدة عروس البحر وعروس الفن لا يمر يوم حتى نحتفل بعرس فني في ثنايا هذه العروس التي شهدت معارض تشكيلية احتضنت أعمالا فنية أكثر من راقية فعلى صالة الشيخ عبدالله القصبي بالمركز السعودي للفنون التشكيلية افتتح معالي الدكتور خالد العنقري وزير التعليم العالي معرض «إحساس 3» للفنان التشكيلي فهد خليف الذي قدم الكثير من أعماله التي أشاد بها الدكتور العنقري وقال أشعر بالاعتزاز عندما أرى مثل هذا الإبداع من أحد فناني الوطن ووعد العنقري الفنان خليف بتبنيه إقامة ثلاثة معارض دولية له أولها في مدينة نيويورك.

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.