Parkside Gallery is kicking off its 2021 season with Behind the Lines, a powerful examination of the impacts of war made by contemporary Syrian artists.
The show is being brought to 100 Mile House by Parkside co-ordinator Barb Brown. Brown said each year she likes to find a show from outside of the community and was lucky to score Behind the Lines for 2021.
Behind the Lines was put together in 2016-18 by Penticton Art Gallery’s curator Paul Crawford and Huoman Alsalim, director of the Cyrrus Gallery in Damascus. Made up of artwork from artists both living in Syria or those who had since fled to Europe, the artwork was slowly smuggled from the civil war-torn country and sent to Canada.
The group of artists from Syria used their artwork to try “to explain and show some of the devastations from the Syrian Civil War,” Brown said.
The subject of the show is war, Brown said, with work from several artists in a variety of mediums. One that particularly stood out to her was a picture of a politician pushing a domino with war written all over it over with the subsequent dominos bearing words of what comes after – from killing to hate and sorrow to refugees, which she believes was drawn by a younger artist.
“I think it’s an obligation of art to look at the bigger world. I think that it’s our responsibility, Parkside Art Gallery, to showcase the work of locals but also bring in art to give us a glimpse of the larger world we belong to,” Brown said.
She was first attracted to the show while driving through Wells and, as is her habit, stopped into the gallery to see what was on display. When she saw the show “her jaw dropped,” Brown said, because of the visceral and raw nature of the work.
The subtle thought-provoking nature of the paintings really brought home to Brown how peaceful we are in our own homes here in Canada and allowed her, for a half-hour, to feel the horror of war. The fact that artists are also largely repressed from depicting the war, Brown said, makes it all the more meaningful. The show has spent the last two years travelling around B.C. and will be returning to Europe after it leaves 100 Mile House.
Brown is currently working with local schools to bring classes of students in to view the show. After all, art isn’t all about beauty, Brown said, but can also be about horror and challenging the audience. She encourages the community as a whole to come out and get out of their comfort zones a little.
Behind the Lines opens on Jan. 12 and will run for five weeks until Feb. 20, with Parkside Gallery open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The artists exhibiting are Juhayda Albitar, Ali Almeer, Houmam Alsalim, Mahmoud Al Daoud, Fadi Al-Hamwi, Aya Al Medani, Khaled Dawna, Lina Malki, Maiesam Mallisho, Alaa Sharabi, Reem Tarraf, Omran Younis, Mohammad Zaza and Obaidah Zorik.