Creative Havens: Syrian Artists And Their Studios

A privileged and unprecedented peek into the lives and studios of contemporary Syrian artists.

From da Vinci to Louay Kayali, artists have always invested their personalities in the environments in which they have worked. Although many artists today have given up the studio model in favour of new modes of working enabled by new technologies, the studio space, which often contains the visible traces of artistic brilliance, toil and agony, still remains a window into an artist’s creative soul, and provides an overview of widely varying methods and approaches. In the modern world, the studio has become an observation platform for surrounding life, a creative centre for experimentation, frequently extending beyond the bounds of an individual room or larger space. A present-day studio might as likely be a laptop as a laboratory, factory, hangar, garden shed or kitchen, but is nevertheless an apt prism through which to explore the notion of creativity. In some instances, it has also become a hiding place.

‘Creative Havens: Syrian Artists And Their Studios’ is a project granting us rare access to the studios of the greatest contemporary Syrian artists – or artists of Syrian descent – living and working both in and outside Syria today. It provides a compelling behind-the-scenes glimpse into their artistic processes: a snapshot of extreme creativity, passionate experimentalism, and sometimes also chaos.

‘Creative Havens’ will showcase Syrian artists (whom we will be interviewing progressively in the course of time), from the most prominent to new, upcoming talents, and offers a visual treat of photography and video, while following each artist through their working routines. Omar Al Akhras, Khaled Takreti, Manhal Issa, Khaled Youssef, Kazem Khalil, Samer Tarabichi, Rashwan Abdelbaki, Eman Nawaya, Tarek Tuma, Valia Abou Alfadel, Boutros Romhein, Elias Naman… the list goes on.

It is an exhilarating experience to be in the presence of a famous artist, even more so to get a sneak peek at new and emerging artists in their innermost sanctums. ‘Creative Havens’  opens doors normally closed to the public, inviting enchantment, curiosity, and perhaps even a bit of controversy. The question of what artists actually get up to in their studios has always intrigued the rest of us – that mysterious alchemical process of transforming base materials into gold, or at least into something marketable in the present volatile art world. Collectors feel honoured, when they are allowed to enter a studio for the first time, the myth around this secret place – the haven of creation, the seeds of innovation – is immense.

The elaborate Website brims with specially commissioned photographs and video films – portraits, artists at work, places of inspiration, studio environments – and keen-witted interviews. The artists not only open the doors to their studios, but also grant access into their thoughts. They express their opinions in all aspects of contemporary Syrian art, thereby painting a vivid picture of what it means to be a Syrian artist today.



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