Sunday, November 15, 2015

What a Difference a War Makes

“Forbidden thoughts trying to break out.”
Abdul-Karim Majdal Al-Beik

For the Beirut based Syrian artist Abdul-Karim Majdal Al-Beik the stored memories on the walls of the buildings that surround him are an on-going inspiration for his work. From the seven house village in Northern Syria of his youth to the alleys of the city of his self-imposed exile Majdal Al-Beik explores the marks both human and natural that record the passage of time.

As he explained to the canvas supplement “Walls drink in the history of a place. Every alley is bound to have a ‘Saeed loves Samira’ kind of graffiti on its walls, a spray-painted arrow to some place, a ‘For Rent’ sign, ‘Allahu Akbar’, or the daubs of letters and numbers by the neighborhood’s children.”

A graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus, Majdal Al-Beik earlier pre-war works recorded the differences between the walls of his childhood and the walls of old Damascus. From the cracked walls of the houses built of mud bricks and straw to the city walls laden with administrative notices, religious proclamations and the graffiti of adolescent frustration.

About which Majdal Al-Beik told the Gulf NewsI am interested in capturing the passage of time and its effect. And I found that painting walls is the best way to achieve this because walls are like a memory of a city, where myriad stories are recorded in the graffiti and the marks created by people and elements of nature.

The harsh realities of the Syrian conflict replaced his renderings of everyday life with the violence and destruction that his walls witnessed.

As he said two years ago “Today, in Syria, men and women are being lined up against the same walls and executed — the same walls where children once scrawled doodles and young lovers wrote their names. The barbaric and indiscriminate killings have forced me to use new and violent vocabularies in my work to express the pain and horror. The patched military fabric on which these paintings are made is like a tattered military tent that offers no refuge and only holds painful memories of years of terror.

Majdal Al-Beik’s latest works have moved on to examine the plight of the refugee who like him have been forced to relocate from their homes.

As the press release for his current exhibition A Heart on a Wall says “Majdal Al-Beik’s new works demonstrate an attempt to incorporate the ‘concerns and desires and hopes and dreams’ of friends and acquaintances, new and old, or those who have emigrated or passed, leaving behind ‘beautiful or painful’ memories. This new series forms ‘a remembrance of heroes who are ordinary people.’ Recreating their engraved voices prevents their memories from fading away.”

A heart on a Wall is currently on show at Ayyam’s DIFC Dubai Gallery until the 31st of December.

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