The pop-up art exhibition ‘Colours of Syria’ presents the awe-inspiring natural landscape of Syria in glorious colour. The paintings and collages on display are infused with the essential beauty and energy of this country. Meanwhile, drawings and photographs in rich tones and darker shades give expression to the inner resilience of Syrian people.
Malva’s painting ‘Willow Tree’, in shades of olive, eau-de-nil and ochre, takes us to one of Syria’s verdant valleys, with weeping willow branches trailing in a shimmering river. Akil Ahmad’s more abstract paintings, with their dynamic calligraphic marks in golden beige and luminous scarlet, evoke Syria’s wide, open spaces. One, inspired by a poem by the first-century writer Al-Mutanabi, conjures up a misty dawn, and the other, a sunset. Adib Fattal’s crayon drawings in magenta, hot pink and turquoise, with titles such as ‘Palmyra’, ‘Damascus Citadel’, ‘The Hosn Castle’, depict historic places in Syria. They remind us of the intense play of sunlight on the brightly coloured architecture, and of the pattern-making and exuberant use of colour in traditional Syrian textiles and mosaics.
In luminous black & white photographs by Assem Hamsho, we are presented with his vision of a moment or place. We see the patterns of shadows of people at leisure, the play of light and shade. Jaber Alwan portrays an elegant and beautiful woman, the green and yellow and red of her dress dazzling in the darkness, as she dreams, or imagines, or waits. Of Adel Daood’s paintings, the art historian Clara Kaufmann writes:
“They are portraits of human nature or humanity itself, portraits of felt, sensed, lived and imagined lives. Dauood’s inspiration pieces his pictures together: a foot here, a face there, arms growing out of a vortex of lines, body parts and bright colours.”
The following artists complete the line-up of ‘Colours of Syria’, with artworks that touch on story-telling or allude to intense psychological states via vivid colours and dynamic patterns and lines: Shadi Abou Saada, Hiba Akkad, Farah Azrak, Tammam Azzam, Fadi Hamwi, Mohamad Labash and Gylan Safadi.
‘Colours of Syria’ gives a rare opportunity to view, especially, artworks by Malva and Jaber Alwan in London. Both are prominent artists who have shown widely in the USA and Europe, and who feature in major museum collections; Malva sadly passed away in 2016.
‘Colours of Syria’ is presented by Litehouse Gallery, a start-up online platform linked to ‘Art Residence Aley’, an art residency programme founded by Raghad Mardini in Lebanon in 2012, which supports Syrian artists, including through the promotion and sale of their artworks worldwide. Raghad Mardini, the Director of Litehouse Gallery, welcomes you to this pop-up exhibition of art that she has specially selected with a view to bringing Syrian colour, energy and creativity to London homes. As Ms Mardini says: “Art does not need an excuse to exist, it exists according to its own power, for its own sake, for its miracle of being contradictory to our daily existence, telling us how beautiful we are.”