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Young Syrian artists respond to conflict

A thought-provoking summer group exhibition opens in London

Mohannad Orabi, Untitled, 2014

One of the more thought-provoking gallery group shows of the summer opens this week at Ayyam Gallery in London. “Syria’s Apex Generation” (7 August-12 September) shows around a dozen works by five young artists, all responding in paint to the current conflict in their country of birth.

The artists were close friends when they began working in Damascus in the 2000s, in a vibrant and exciting emerging art scene. Since the uprising began in 2011, however, most have moved out of the city (Ayyam Gallery has also temporary shut its original space in Damascus).

Now, says Loulua Zawawi, the London gallery’s manager, “because of what is happening, issues of conflict and dislocation have entered their works”. Othman Moussa uses a simple, traditional still-life style to depict everyday food items (an apple, loaves of bread) into bombs; Mohannad Orabi turns the faces of young children into crash test dummies. The other artists in the exhibition are Nihad al-Turk (who paints mythical anti-heroes), Abdul-Karim Majdal al-Beik (whose found objects include guns and a knife) and Kai Salman (whose scenes of violence and terror are contained in narrow, comic-strip canvases).

The exhibition is curated by Maymanah Farhat, who organised similar shows in Ayyam’s Dubai and Beirut galleries earlier this summer. Works are priced between £2,000 and £18,000.

Othman Moussa, The Terror Group, 2014
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