Zimzy Gallery Dubai presents the encounter of Aleppo artists with modernism in Syria

A work exhibited at the Zimzy gallery.

Mohammad Yusuf, Feature Writer

The exhibition The Path of Aleppo Modernity presented at the Zimzy Gallery in Dubai (July 22 – for two months) explores the position of artists between heritage and modernity in Aleppo, Syria, during a period of a quarter of a century.

The artists are Fateh Al Moudarres; Saad Yakan; Sharif Muharram; Wahid Maghareba; Ibrahim Daoud; Abdul Mohsen Khanji; Mahmoud Al Sajer; Ihsan Hammo; Ahmed Barho and Diaa Al-Hamwi.

The art movement in Syria over the past hundred years in Aleppo has spawned many pioneering artists. They laid one of the foundations of modern Syrian art. The art and artists of Aleppo had a great influence on Syrian art.

The second generation of artists followed the path of the first generation and presented many works, influenced by European art, which they had absorbed through their studies in the West. After learning the cultures and mores of international art, third-generation artists began to present traditional works, blending them with modernity.


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The early paintings of Al Moudarres (1922 – 1999) are characterized by his mission and constant quest to establish a new Arab school in art that compares and rivals Western schools.

His paintings were a window for modern art to enter the Syrian art world. Its themes come from the local environment and from social and national life; his artistic elements are drawn from rural folklore and his colors are as warm as the colors of the land where he lived.

In his works there are new innovative formulas based on geometric modifications, which include faces. He added elements of folk heritage to the human body, which became a feature of his works and a feature of his art – it was his own special formula. Maghareba (b. 1942) occupied (even in his early days) a prestigious place among the eminent artists considered today as pioneers. His exceptional presence continued inside and outside his country, with a high-class and distinguished personal style that evolved and modernized, without losing its authenticity. In his works, we see his historical imagination linked to heritage.

Khanji (b. 1950) never ceased to seek the revival and development of art in Aleppo. He earned his artistic freedom by embracing and creating ideas woven into different visual art forms, using a wide range of tools and techniques to achieve his personal ambitions and to appeal to all artistic tastes.

Zimzy 1 Aleppo artists combine tradition and modernity.

He is one of Aleppo’s greatest artists with a keen interest in the embodiment of “Mawlawi” rituals, decorative decorations and the letters of the Arabic language. He has extensively experimented with metal engraving, which has allowed him to demonstrate incredible skills in creating visual three-dimensional works of art.

He also used printmaking in paintings, depicting aesthetic aspects of decoration, color, and shading, without the need for changing color. Daoud, academician who proposes human and animal forms which seem strange to those who do not immerse themselves in the study of the theme, is considered as one of the artists whose work is far from imitation and repetition.

He does not follow just one path but takes all paths, no matter where they lead. She offers slender shapes freed from the weight of the message: the artist draws shapes from the imagination, with a critical social appeal.

The paintings of Muharram (1954 – 2009) have the ability to draw the viewer into their many worlds; they seem simple at first glance, but the recipient soon discovers that he has entered worlds that mix reality and dreams, intertwined perhaps as in a musical symphony.

Yakan (b. 1950) uses colors that have special psychological connotations. Red has its importance while black and white colors have their own individuality; each work bears its own symbols. Barho specializes in oil painting and its techniques. He is an abstract artist whose style relies on gradients of color traveling between dark and light, blending together to create a great deal of mystery and ambiguity. Al Sajer (b. 1955) summarizes most of his works; but it does not destroy the shapes in their entirety, but retains realistic and legible lines. It abstracts what it wants in the abstract, while maintaining their basic weight and mass. His portraits have sad features with fragile dreams and ghostly talismans, and they are fitted with masks, with many tears for sadness – and a few for joy.

Hammo evokes faces from a distant memory; they are shrouded in a touch of cruelty and loneliness, stretching to an endless horizon. They carry color concepts, rich in emotions and spontaneous touches that fit into the overall vision of the work. They release the vital powers of imagination or emotion.

Al-Hamwi’s paintings affirm the stock of his experience and burning memories. He is an artist who lives the experiences of Maqama of Aleppo, where he lived from an early age. The reality of his feelings and experiences as a youth and child in Aleppo al-Shahba can be seen in his mature years.

Its spectrum of colors dances in the compositions and the relationships between blue, red, yellow, purple, orange, green, black and white are well defined. He started painting at an early age and was fascinated by Arabic calligraphy or “Arabic art” from an early age. When he was older, he often looked at art from around the world: he was inspired a lot by oriental music.

He believes that artists were created to make the world a better place, while there are people trying to destroy it.

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