Investigations | 26 Oct 2014

What is happening in Syria is clearly reflected in the work of Syrian artist Assem al-Basha, especially the themes of detainees, the dead, the siege, and displacement. 

In an interview with Rozana during the exhibition of his latest works in Paris, Basha tells Rozana: "It was a natural reaction that the tragedies of the detainees would appear in my work, including the death of my brother under torture seven months after his arrest. As for the killing, it has become a daily scene in the country." 

As for selecting the themes of his paintings, Assem al-Basha cites the work he named "the Lady Kalamoon," saying: "The Lady of Kalamoon is a Christian religious symbol. Although I do not have any affiliation with beliefs, I have found it my duty to address the theme of the fall Kalamoon." 

The Syrian artist also pointed to the painting "A Salute to Ghouta" which he painted with the beginning of the Ghouta events, and to the painting he called "demonstrate,” evoking the demonstrations in which he participated, before being forced to leave Syria. 

The artist  had suffered a great loss, when his works were stolen from his private studio in the town of Yabroud (in the Kalamoon area in central Syria). 

He stoically comments by saying: "I suddenly lost 30 years of my work. This sometimes makes it possible to think about suicide. Yet in spite of that, I did not collapse, and I am now working with a sense of loss and bereavement. This makes me work more, as if I were avenging what happened through work." 

Basha spoke about the existence of similarities between his new paintings and sculptures, and some of those lost in his studio—particularly the ones he had painted after the start of the Syrian Revolution. 

Basha’s works now mainly use iron, some formed pieces of clay, as well as paintings in black and white, and their various shades. 

It is to be noted that Assem al-Basha, born to a Syrian immigrant father and an Argentinian mother in 1959, has also issued collections of stories titled Risala fil Assa [A Message in Sorrow] and Bakiran fi Salat al-Isha’ [Early in the Evening Prayers]. His book Al-Shami Al-Akheer fi Ghirnata [The Last Damascene in Granada] also won the prestigious Ibn Battuta Award.

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