Some of the exhibitions of Syrian work staged in
The "apex generation" represented in this 15-work exhibition is comprised of Abdul Karim Majdal al-Beik,
Farhat is an art historian as well as a curator, and the exhibition opening served as a platform for the launch of her monograph of the same name. The book, as Farhat writes, sets out to see "post-uprising art as an introduction to the rich history of painting in
Most of the artists were on hand at the opening to discuss their practice and how their art has evolved through the years of difficulties Syrians have experienced since 2011.
Some in the audience during these talks remarked that the flood of Syrian art at
Though such remarks are a trifle inappropriate -- given that the Ayyam network of galleries was founded in
These artists, Farhat wrote, "are collectively extending the boundaries of representation and perceived functions of art, that have shaped Syrian visual culture for over 60 years."
Depicting the evolution of the Syrian art scene, Farhat notes that mid-20th-century Syrian works mostly reflected "the lived realities of
In the late 1950s, the aesthetic shifted to embrace modernism. Expressionism became dominant, with "the deconstruction of figuration and the reinterpretation of space." It is from this formal experimentation that a new generation of Syrian artists was born.
With their work, modernist artists are inherently activist in their relationship to their public. As
The aesthetic of the Syrian scene was given a new direction in the 1980s with explorations of the body and its possible deformations. "The figure in Syrian art," Farhat writes, "became disproportionate, fragile and transitory."
Within the broad trends of these developments in
Majdal Al-Beik is known for the range of materials he brings to bear in his mixed-media, abstract figuration -- burlap and charcoal and techniques of artificial ageing among them -- concerned especially with social transformation.
Farhat characterizes Turk's colorful mixed-media works as "thematic explorations of the endurance of man amidst the power struggles of good and evil."
The work has undergone some shifts: A few years back, it was not as colorful as now. The artist's vivid palette may be read to suggest a hint of optimism absent in his previous pieces. Given the present state of his country, it may also be read as a representation of the hope for a brighter future.
More recognizably figurative, the childlike figures in Orabi's canvasses are inspired by a range of sources that include social media and are linked to the present situation in
Perhaps the most intriguing of this "Apex Generation" art are Moussa's photo-realist paintings, which have surprised many visitors with their depictions of banal objects -- a baby bottle, a clutch of zucchini, a watermelon. Combined with wires, firecrackers and tape, these dietary staples are implicated into sculptural forms that mimic improvised explosive devices.
Moussa's technique is so refined that each canvas conveys the impression that onlookers are looking at actual photographs -- at times even more striking, as though these objects are present before one's eyes.
This art may be read as a barometer of the present transformation of Syrian art, at least that of artists working with paint and canvas.
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