Open diary, journaling life in war

Work by Nizar Sabour on display at Orient Gallery until May 14 (Photo courtesy of Orient Gallery)

Work by Nizar Sabour on display at Orient Gallery until May 14 (Photo courtesy of Orient Gallery)

AMMAN — “During times of violence and conflict where death surrounds us, does one lose the innocence of the child within him?”

Through art and painting, that is a question Syrian artist Nizar Sabour has been trying to answer ever since the conflict in Syria arose. 

“I found it difficult to paint when the conflict back home started because I felt that amidst what we were living in, there was no place for creativity and art,” he said. 

Sabour, who resides in Damascus, opened his solo exhibition ‘Damascene Memoirs’ at Orient Gallery last Tuesday. 

The artist documented his feelings, thoughts and situations that he has been encountering on a daily basis in the war-torn country which is why he wanted the pieces in his exhibition to represent an open diary, journaling life in war. 

“I have added phrases to some paintings because they relate to situations that I have lived through ever since the conflict arose. These are my memoirs on a canvas. 

“When I write ‘we nurture our children to make them escape this country’ I think about how we have hopes for our children to grow and contribute to the future of their country, but then we realise that we have to take them and flee the country, escape from the death that surrounds them and us. That is very painful,” he told The Jordan Times.

The exhibition comprised of different collections that the artist worked on between 2012 and 2014. The first collection, ‘Syrian Obituaries’ represents the blend of different cultures and religious sects in the country, and the different types of obituaries they have for their dead.

The second collection was ‘The Siege’, where Sabour worked on circle-shaped panels symbolising the never-ending blockade that cannot be escaped. “This siege shows how war not only affects the human physically and geographically, but also psychologically,” Sabour said. 

Sabour also worked on a collection of make-believe books, which he titled ‘The book is keeper of life and death’. “These books tackled a variety of subjects such as death, bullets and hope,” he said. 

The exhibition also included ‘Syrian Shreds’ and ‘Qalamoun’, which focused on bigger-scale canvases. 

Qalamoun Mountain is located in the northeast of Damascus and has a cultural heritage that dates back to 10 thousand years. “I wanted to focus on Qalamoun because it has an important Christian heritage. From Ma’alula to Deir Atiyah to Al Nabek, these locations were all affected by the war and were shred to pieces and their churches were robbed and burned to ashes,” the Syrian artist said. 

The Fine Arts professor at the University of Damascus wanted to reflect the attitude of art towards war, hope, love and the human being’s yearning for peace and life.

He said: “Between peace and war and life and death, when one lives in these circumstances his feelings towards life become stronger. The human being is born on this earth to live and build, not to die and ruin.” 

The exhibition runs until May 14 at Orient Gallery.

This piece was published in The Jordan Times


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