art of resistance, Syria

Playlist: Hello Pshychaleppo.

screen-shot-2015-07-13-at-19-29-31/From the video Shahba/

Today is Middle East Revised’s third birthday. Here’s a nice tune to go with it. It is not necessarily celebratory, but it suits the last three years of writing and posting here. I am happy to have these years.

Hello Pshychaleppo is a project by Samer Saem Eldahr, and it’s all about fusing Arab heritage music and electronic sounds.

For the video Shahba, Eldahr asked friends to send him any footage that they had of Aleppo. “I wanted to do a mixture of footage and the animation that I create myself. It’s like a composition of our collective memory”, he says in an interview .

Doing this project wasn’t easy. “Whilst working on this project I also had to do a lot of research about Aleppo, particularly the visuals that Aleppians relate to.

For example, there is a yellow man who is very well known in Aleppo simply for the fact that he wears only yellow. He never takes it off. For every Aleppian or for every person who has been to Aleppo they relate to this person, this image. It’s in our visual memory. So things like this bring a lot of memories and it’s bitter-sweet”, Eldahr explains.

Listen & watch the video here.

Previous Playlist:

Grup Bunalim

I Was Born For Poetry (Adonis)

The Partisan

Rojava Women

Standard
art of resistance, Syria

Remembering Louay Kayali: Life Is On The Streets.

the match seller/The Match Seller by Louay Kayali/

Louay Kayali was a Syrian modern artist, a brilliant painter born in Aleppo in 1934. He began painting at the age of eleven and held his first solo exhibition when he was eighteen.

Kayali died in 1978, from burns incurred from his bed catching fire, reportedly from a cigarette (he suffered from depression, leaving many to think it was suicide).

Kayali studied art at the Accademia di Belle Arti, and met Syrian artist Wahbi Al-Hariri there – they would remain friends for the rest of Kayali’s life (Al-Hariri became his mentor). Later on, Fateh Moudarress (also mentored by Al-Hariri) and Kayali represented Syrian modern art at the Venice Biennial Fair.

laundrette/The Laundrette/

Kayali graduated in Rome in 1961 and returned to Syria where he started his career as a fine arts professor at Damascus University, where Fateh Moudarres also taught.

Kayali’s artwork changed during his life, he was inspired by various things and made beautiful paintings of still nature and village landscapes, but what moves me deeply when it comes to his work are his painting of “ordinary” people, the way he captured life on the streets.

woman-selling-figs/Woman Selling Figs/

When Kayali made his atrwork about the people around him, people we pass by every day, people that are not often thought of as important, as the ones that deserve attention – that is when his art became so powerful, it became a statement of resistance, a portrait of struggle that cannot and should not be unseen.

His ways of capturing the psychological condition of the people, the harshness of life in the way they hold their bodies, the way they look at you – it is a true skill, it is a way of seeing and understanding people, not just trying to paint them.

In that sense, his portraits of people in the streets of Syria, the relationships he made, can be compared to those of Vincent Van Gogh and the miners he lived with and painted.

fisherman in arwad/Fisherman in Arwad/

Kayali is also famous for capturing the agony and the decampment of Palestinians in his paintings, particularly during the 1967 war.

His painting Then What shows Palestinian refugees, barefoot and disoriented, and it remained one of his most powerful works. You can see the misery, you can feel the despair.

kayai so what/Then What/

In his work, Kayali did not adhere to the idyllic image of national heroes, and his shift towards “everyday” people did not go without criticism. After all of the turmoils and attacks, in 1977 he decided to leave for Italy, he sold his house and left Syria, dreaming that he would work on his art in Rome, in a more peaceful atmosphere.

But he couldn’t do that and he returned to Aleppo, to live in solitude. He died in solitude, but in his work all of the connections he made remain visible.

He cared about people deeply. He was a keen observer of life, a mad person, a genious, a humanist not well understood in a world that is very often so far from humanistic values.

the bread maker/The Bread Maker/

He made sure we remember and notice the bread makers, fishermen, ice cream sellers, corn sellers, match sellers, bead sellers, fig sellers, socks sellers, flower boys, flute players, shoe-shine boys, oud players, cleaning ladies, beggars, refugees, single mothers….

That is why we should remember Louay Kayali.

//all paintings by Louay Kayali//

• • •

Previous Remembering… sessions:

Remembering Ronit Elkabetz: A Thing Of Soul And Beauty

Remembering Leila Alaoui: The Moroccans

Remembering Mahdi ‘Amel: The Importance of Resistance

Standard
art of resistance, Syria

After | Aleppo.

aleppo/Aleppo, illustration by the Lebanese artist Jana Traboulsi/

After Aleppo by Jehan Bseiso

I learned to read early.

But the truth is, sometimes I wish the letters remained funny drawings for longer, before the uninvited tyranny of words, and

before other tongues found home in my big mouth.

I don’t mean it literally.

One day, we will go back to Aleppo you said.

You don’t mean it literally.

Habeebi four years ago we shouted for change, and now we are citizens of border towns.

We go from Turkey, to Lebanon, to Egypt, but we don’t find Aleppo.

We have food vouchers, and, assistance criteria, and, intermittent empathy.

I don’t write any more poetry.

The boat is sinking,

literally,

but I don’t want to leave this room.

It smells like jasmine and you taste like freedom.

This poem was published in January last year, on Mada Masr.

Standard
art of resistance, Syria

The Boy Who Dreams of Rebuilding Aleppo.

Capture

Yes, THIS is the city of Aleppo – the spirit of its people. How I love this story!

It is a story about a 13-year-old boy, Mohammed Qutaish, who does not want to flee Syria – instead he dreams of growing up to become an architect to rebuild the ruins of Aleppo.

He still hasn’t given up hope of a better future – even though the reality of living in Aleppo is sometimes worse than living in a nightmare. In his home inside the devastated city he creates his own world using paper, paint and a glue gun.

Click on this Channel 4 video and dive inside Mohammed’s vision, see his Aleppo.

Standard
art of resistance, Syria

The Theatre of War.

‘The Theatre of War‘ is an exhibition of photographs dedicated to the work of some of the newest members of Magnum: Peter Van Agtmael, Moises Saman, Jerome Sessini and limited edition posthumous prints by the late Tim Hetherington, whose Estate joined the agency after his death in Libya in April 2011.

The exhibition addresses the subject that Tim Hetherington was exploring in his photography, when he was tragically killed, which is the self-conscious theatricality of the combatants he documented as they played out their roles. This exhibition brings together a unique set of images which capture the protagonists of war and their stages – the territories over which these recent conflicts have raged: Liberia, Egypt, Syria and Libya.

The following photos are from Syria, and I am posting them here together with the verses of a great Syrian poet, Nizar Qabbani.

LON160682© Moises Saman/ Magnum Photos

أدمنت احزاني
فصرت اخاف ان لا احزنا
I got addicted to my sorrows,
Until I have gotten scared of not being sorrowed.

NYC133630© Moises Saman/ Magnum Photos

وطعنت آلافا من المرات
حتى صار يوجعني بان لا اطعنا
And I was stabbed thousands of times,
Until it felt painful not to be stabbed.

PAR433458© Jerome Sessini/ Magnum Photos

ولعنت في كل اللغات
حتى صار يقلقني بان لا العنا
And I was cursed in all the languages,
Until I started being nervous of not being cursed.

PAR433521© Jerome Sessini/ Magnum Photos

ولقد تشابهت كل البلاد
فلا ارى نفسي هناك، ولا ارى نفسي هنا
And all the countries seemed the same,
That I don’t see myself there, And I don’t see myself here.

For more on The Theatre of War exhibition, go to Magnum Photos.

Standard
art of resistance, Syria

Time Travel Booth: 20th Century Syria.

1958 thrity million fruti treesThirty million fruit trees in al-Ghouta, 1958.

a delegation of women from alepo 1962A delegation of women from Aleppo visiting president al-Qudsi, 1962.

cinema 1950sDecorating the cinema billboards, Damascus, 1958.

1920sDamascus, 1920s.

house in Rankus, date unknownHouse in Rankus, date unknown

pioneer syrian director and anchorPioneer Syrian TV director and anchor Khaldun al-Maleh, 1960.

street scene damascus 1940Street scene, Damascus, 1940.

the faculty of law damascus university 1952The Faculty of Law at Damascus University, 1950.

the semiramis hotel 1970The Semiramis Hotel, Damascus, 1970s.

1383778_557253750996929_1628236270_nSyrian musician Farid al-Atrash with Egyptian actress Mariam Fakhr al-Din, 1962.

993044_516566785065626_2058114282_nDamascus, 1951.

All  photos found on the facebook page Syrian History 

(it’s a great page, so be sure to check it out for more).

 

Standard