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In The Presence of Memory

In The Presence of Memory

After many years of successfully  presenting  artists and designers with a chance to showcase their talents to an international audience mainly in the United States,  Syra Arts is proud to be holding its first exhibition in Cairo, Egypt in collaboration with Bibliothek Egypt. Bibliothek Egypt is a new cultural hub in Sheikh Zayed, introducing a comprehensive cultural experience through its dedicated bookstore, gallery and café.

“In the Presence of Memory”, showcases the works of 7 Syrian artists spanning many different styles. The exhibition is curated by renowned  art collector and Islamic art historian, Maysa Harwil, who has been  championing  young Syrian artists since 2006 at her “Rawda Gallery” in  Syria and has curated many several exhibitions in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

Having had to relocate herself many times because of the war and the political situation in her homeland, she feels an affinity to each of the seven artists as they have had, themselves, to relocate, more often than not, under difficult  circumstances.

Akil Ahmed, who lives between Turkey and Beirut, captures the moments of ecstasy in Sufi music and turns them  into letters that he carefully weaves with his brush strokes. Alaa Abou Shaheen who now calls France his home, uses many mediums to  produce  his caricaturist pieces, that, often distorted and exaggerated, express the contradictions and ridiculousness of life. Ibrahim Alhassoun, now in Turkey, finds the bright and magical colors of the Turkish landscape evoking memories of his family and the mud houses of his village in Syria. Noor Bahjat, currently living and working in Dubai, creats deeply atmospheric canvases with her reoccurring female protagonist expressing the different states of Love. Semaan Khawam, also known as birdman, because the bird, his alter ego, represents freedom and the ability to live without borders,  has finally settled in the United Kingdom. Based currently with her family in Jordan, Waaed Qwayder attempts with her surrealistic paintings of dreams and dark memories to interpret the complicated  universe around her. Safaa Alset, a traveller, who expresses  endless memories  as she sparks metal with life, playing with fire, heating and melding scrap pieces of iron and copper.

“In the Presence of Memory” takes you on a journey with these seven artists as they reminisce on their voyage from the time they were uprooted from their homes to where they relocated to start new lives as they  look forward to the future.

Both Syra Arts and Bibliothek  Egypt  are excited to bring to Egypt these artists, who are becoming more and more recognized regionally and internationally. The exhibition opens on Saturday November 5th at 6 pm and continues till November 26th, 2022.

Exhibition Statement

 In the presence of Memory we weave our stories………………….

We come here with heavy loads, lay down our luggage - tools, brushes, colours, inks as we watch from across oceans - What is to be done? 

We have learned we must migrate, like flocks of birds who grow accustomed to new seasons of the soul. We have made our nests in neighbouring gardens. We live and dream as we always have, sing through the seasons, raise our hatchlings. We fly on the wings of freedom and ride the winds through guiltless heavens. We were born between the earth and the stars. What is East and West to us? So what if we must outrun the destruction? 

Here we bring forth all that we carry within us, that has formed us: the carpet spread along the corridor, the geometry of innocence, the fragrance of our mother’s dress, the silhouettes of clay and hay, houses fading in the distance.

We turn and capture a portrait suspended in the mirror - vague, contorted with meaning - visions seeking expression. The past and the future interlacing. 

On the stage of the Imagination where nature speaks to her children, to their innocence, in her cryptic language.. where the donkey comes to stand for all the stubborn faults of man; himself absurd, his head inflated, his moustache stretching the breadth of canvas. 

Where language twists in its very essence - mysteries imprinted in the ink, whispering of the Lover.. of melodies heard sighing through the streets of old Aleppo .. if only in the presence of our memory.

We tell our stories. Of all that we have lost, that remains unforgotten. Of all that we are, endlessly evolving. New worlds emerging from the dust of the past.

Stories of dreams and dark memories, the truth interlaced with the illusion as we try to ease the absurdities and complexities of life around us.

We return here, to this Presence - where the earth dissolves into paint pressed onto a surface dyed with the colours of experience... or charcoal lines in the still white void, traced with blind fingertips, interlinked as tight as fig roots.Searching, always searching. 

We are here...we are Present. We tell our stories. Weave together our memories of the future. We are hopeful, for we have felt the spark of Creation alight in our hearts, and we have honoured it.

                                                                                                                       Omar Mooro