New England Journal of Public Policy Vol. 31 : Iss. 1 , Article 6.
Stories Untold: Art from Syria
In Damascus, a group of artists created paintings of startling intensity, rich in texture and bold to the eye, suffused with light and reflecting alternate realities: the resilience of a highly cultured people with a civilization of seven thousand years and a history of survival and reinvention. While the machines of war produced death, amid the blood and terror, the devastation and savagery, these artists produced images of hope and beauty that were brought together in an exhibition held in Athens and other parts of Greece. The paintings that accompany Ghanem’s article, “Stories Untold: Art from Syria,” also the name of the exhibition, allow readers to experience these artists’ works. Their paintings reflect “the life-loving spirit of Syria, reminding us of the legendary phoenix that reinvents and invigorates itself from its ashes.” The images, Ghanem tells us, take us to “mystical realms, where a child symbolizes life, joy and hope for the future and a woman symbolizes home, love, and life-giving force, and where beauty is strength, vigor, and optimism. These eternal symbols bring us together in harmony and peace regardless of our differences to complete the circle of love around us all.”
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Nestled among the boutiques and cafes of London’s Mayfair, the newly launched Stories Art Gallery offers art lovers, old and new, the opportunity to explore the work of contemporary Syrian artists. As Syria’s civil war drags on towards its eighth year, curator Manas Ghanem decided to present a different side of her home country than the images shown in the media.
“Most of the artwork that we have here comes from artists who lived in Syria during the war, so that’s what makes this artwork more unique and interesting,” she says of the 20 odd pieces on display. Ranging from portraits to abstract paintings, drawings to watercolours, each artwork has a story, which Manas and gallery manager Natalja Vasina include in every tour they give.
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The Art Newspaper December 2018
New London gallery shows work by only-known artist to have worked secretly under Islamic State.
The Stories Art Gallery champions artists who take a non-political approach in their work to challenge violent stereotypes of Syria.
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