World Civil War Portraits : Curated by Sacha Craddock, Presented by StolenSpace, The Old Truman Brewery, London, UK
World Civil War Portraits is a selection of new and recent work by Sara Shamma, a powerful and moving product of the gruesome civil war in Syria, was created after Shamma was forced to flee the country in 2012 proceeding a car bomb that exploded outside her home. Shamma’s paintings are emphatically not ‘war paintings’. The show takes us on a cinematic journey of the experience of war, allowing us to feel the horror of displacement and loss through the eyes of the refugee, the tortured, the maimed and the terrorised victims of war. After moving to the small Lebanese town, Shamma’s perception of people changed, as she herself was changed. I used to think before that I was interested in life, death and dissolution, but now I am interested in these topics a hundred times more. Some of the people in this town occupy these paintings: their eyes, their lives, their hopes and desires, and the way I felt about them. Sacha Craddock describes Shamma’s approach to painting as ‘a sophisticated play between the real and the symbolic. Focus shifts in and out as she alludes to a general condition sometimes with heightened detail. A recent self-portrait contains differing states and time, the artist shadowed by the skeleton of a mythical monster, stares out, while a party balloon on another plane withers and deflates. The most recent paintings work together to build a powerful state of contemplation. They carry a strange other worldliness about them, that unites a range of hyper real detail, body organs for instance, with a loose brush stroke across the face.’ Shamma believes the state of war transforms the life of the individual living in diaspora – irrevocably detached from their life and almost unimaginably different from the experience of those who live without conflict.
Sara Shamma, World Civil War Portraits 2015May 2015