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Behind the Lines: Contemporary Syrian Art

October 17, 2017 @ 10:00 am - January 7, 2018 @ 5:00 pm MDT

The latest exhibition in the University of Calgary’s Founders’ Gallery at The Military Museums of Calgary offers a glimpse inside conflict zones in Syria and explores the hopes of dreams of its people. Behind the Lines: Contemporary Syrian Art, opening this evening, highlights the work of 19 Syrian artists – most of them still living in Syria – whose work was inspired by the turmoil in their country. Through art, they’re building a greater understanding of the Syrian people, their culture and history.

“This exhibition is not for the faint of heart, but it also affirms the incredible capacity of the human spirit to not only survive the most unimaginable circumstances, but thrive,” explains Lindsey Sharman, curator of the Founders’ Gallery.

The exhibition was created by Paul Crawford, curator of the Penticton Art Gallery, and Humam Alsalim of the Cyrrus Gallery of Contemporary Syrian Art in Damascus, Syria.

“For artists living in Syria, there are few opportunities to exhibit their work. They have nothing to lose and they’re making art for the sake of making art,” says Crawford. “Their powerful work is a testament to their resilience, and hopefully it will hopefully inspire similar voices in Syria and also here in Canada.”

All the pieces allude to the devastation in Syria: the Cultural Beheading series by Humam Alsalim and Rami Bakhos; the body parts in Omran Younis’s paintings; the sorrow depicted in Lina Malki’s Displaced series; Khaled Dawwa’s clay sculptures inspired by his experience of being injured in a bombing then arrested, imprisoned and exiled; and the fragility suggested in Khaled Yousseff’s photographs of bubbles – as the artist has said, “Make bubbles, not war.”

The raging civil war in Syria has killed at least a quarter of a million people. More than 25,000 refugees have made new lives in Canada, nearly 4,000 in Calgary. Last year, the University of Calgary awarded a number of bursaries, provided complimentary English-language training and other assistance for Syrian newcomers. 

Behind the Lines: Contemporary Syrian Art is a travelling exhibition that has been shown in Penticton, Whitehorse and Grand Forks. The display in the Founders’ Gallery is the only Alberta venue on the tour and it runs until January 7, 2018.


October 17, 2017 @ 10:00 am MDT
January 7, 2018 @ 5:00 pm MDT
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Founder’s Gallery
4520 Crowchild Trail SW AB Canada + Google Map