An Odyssey of Modern Times

When we aspire to go elsewhere to fulfill our dreams, the question we always ask ourselves: where to and with whom? The path towards the unknown, the remoteness with those we love, changes, all this makes the journey more challenging. In order to brave the anguish and anxiety, yet to appreciate the discovery and wonderment, is it not alleviating to travel with fellow travelers, with friends who understand the tears as much as they share the smiles?

Syrian artists Obaidah Zorik, Omar Shammah and Karam Tarshahani – Bremen, Germany, April 2016  – Photo ©Khaled Youssef

Here is an odyssey of modern times ‒ a time of war and migration as always ‒ which sometimes takes the form of an awesome flight towards new horizons. Our heroes are named Karam, Obaidah and Omar, three friends from the Damascus Faculty of Fine Arts in Syria. Three artists with personalities so different and artistic expressions so varied, yet with a single heart that beats in unison for their country and their culture. Their complicity is immediately palpable, their joy and laughter make us forget under what living conditions they started their youth, in a country ravaged by an endless war where the full development of creative potential and talents has been reduced to nothingness. In Syria, a country of timeless beauty and whose pluralistic and multicultural traditions yet govern society since time immemorial.

In the haziness of the horizon, they light themselves up with the glow of a fire and a light from elsewhere. They have not necessarily followed the same route from Syria, meanwhile it is not by chance if all three got reunited in the beautiful Hanseatic city of Bremen in northwest Germany, because they have always remained closely related to each others. For them, the other way has therefore begun, and with their first steps towards a tomorrow at the heights of their talents, the Earth begins a new convolution.

Syrian artists Obaidah Zorik, Omar Shammah and Karam Tarshahani – Bremen, Germany, April 2016  – Photo ©Khaled Youssef

Obaidah: a talented artist who draws inspiration from his past and present experience of reality, and uses his creative energy to give life and expression to abstract expressionism. Contemporary artworks, abstract paintings, bright colors, a perceptible lightness, and an immediately recognizable iconic style, such as the one of great artists. A somewhat rebellious side, a je-ne-sais-quoi of a Gustave Courbet with his long hair, and a fine mustache, like a nod to Salvador Dali. With him, one passes from earnest to laughter in a split second, just like in his paintings one follows a line that often ends up in an explosion of colors  ̶  the color overflowing the painting.

Omar: bespectacled, laughing eyes that tell myriads of stories, a broad and high forehead that radiates intelligence and sensitivity. While observing him drawing, it is impossible to avert one’s gaze away from his hand running with lightness and elegance over the white page, drawing on intimate sources of his being to draw the Universal that affects us all. Despite his undoubted talent as a visual artist, he gives priority to another art form in which he also excels: Graphic Design. The ideas of this graphic designer rush to create creative forms to his projects, and thus it is also in Europe that his creativity will be deployed.

Syrian artists Obaidah Zorik, Omar Shammah and Karam Tarshahani – Bremen, Germany, April 2016  – Photo ©Khaled Youssef

Karam: his Western appearance accentuates the tenderness of his Oriental gaze, and his natural quietness is very soothing. His art opens a noble way to the transformation of the insignificant into useful beauty, between his hands, useless objects become unique artworks that adorn the body, and plastic scraps take unexpected forms and give the material a startling rendering. Recycling for him is a value, starting from nothing and building something: it looks so much like some destinies.

The three friends are preparing to continue their studies; they help and support, inspire and encourage each others. Their laughter resonates as they stroll through the streets of Bremen; it is a blessed madness, the madness of youth that is driven by the absolute of life and invigorated by creativity!

We will continue to follow their itinerary, for talent knows no boundaries. Together, their hearts forget the pain and exile, since eager to reach the future, hope knocks on the door, and on the front of tomorrow, carves their dreams.

Text by Khaled Youssef
Editing & English translation by Danii Kessjan


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