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The Arab Series #3: War On Famous Canvas

Syrian war scenes swarm the famous paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci, Salvador Dalí, Pieter Brueghel and Paul Gauguin

2014 | Animation | Drama | Syria | War

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the missiles in the sky over the border town of Yabroud, in the Qalamoun mountains, on May 17, 2013. Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory and the bombing in Daraa, where over 200,000 people were killed since 2011 according to the Observatory for Human Rights (at least 16 people, among them 13 children, were found dead after Syrian government airstrikes a couple of days ago). Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Tower of Babel and the ancient al Madiq castle in Hama, where shelling spread for 10 days despite ceasefire on March 21, 2012. Paul Gauguin’s Landscape at Le Pouldu and the city of Saraqeb on April 13, 2013, where Assad forces dropped chemically laced mortars in several barrel bomb attacks.

Syrian war scenes transposed onto the famous paintings – War On Famous Canvas is an exhibition of masterpieces in which the tremendous reality of Syria literally explodes. Mercilessly, straight before our eyes. Allahu Akbar sounds thunderous. Amjad Wardeh, plastic artist and graphic designer exploring a variety of mediums and techniques to develop his unique style, animates these imaginary canvas to show that war can happen in any moment and destroy our cultural heritage. Syria is also a piece of art – he says – and we must protect it. Beyond the abstract and expressionism of his works, Amjad tries to find himself as a citizen and as a person. He pushes the boundaries of free expression on the social media (cartoons, comics, caricatures) and on the walls of Damascus (sprayed anti-Assad graffiti, posters, murals, stamps). The cultural and artistic output of the Syrian revolution is available on The Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution site. As for Tunisia and Egypt, signs of revolt grow on line and on the walls. And war is not a routine, a media memoir.

Made in Med winner (short film contest launched by European Union’s Euromed Audiovisual programme) and screened at Cannes Short Film Corner, War On Famous Canvas is the first short directed by Amjad Wardeh. Born in Damascus in 1984 and graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Wardeh worked from 2002 to 2007 in animation for Syrian Television and was Art Director at the independent daily newspaper Baladna and at Sabaya magazine. Since 2012, he took part in several exhibitions in Beirut, London, Amsterdam, Nottingham and Istanbul. He cooperates with other young, award-winning Syrian artists as Abdullatief Al Jeemo and Wael Toubaji (watch his satiric cartoon No Difference). In 2015 he has directed the short Goal to Syria, dedicated to the 659 White Helmets who have saved the lives of 2,514 people during the conflict.

War On Famous Canvas is a must watch along with YouTube finger puppet series Top Goon made by Massasit Matti group and the “emergency cinema” of the Abounaddara collective (coming soon on Good Short Films). This is the art of resistance.

Alessandro Zoppo

Tommaso Fagioli

Tommaso Fagioli

Founder, creative director, curator @ Good Short Films. Fond of great stories, great thinkers, great booze. My motto is, your motto.

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