Conflicts & War

Ruins of solidarity, Syrian artist claims walls wrecked by Russia

Beirut, Apr 13 (EFE).- Artist Aziz al-Asmar has turned walls in ruins across the Syrian province of Idlib, destroyed during the Syrian civil war, into his canvas to send a message of solidarity to Ukraine.

Idlib, Syria’s last bastion of freedom, was frequently bombed by Russian forces, president Bashar al-Assad’s closest military ally during the eleven-year long conflict, reducing vast areas of the province to rubble.

With his art, Al-Asmar has transformed the destruction into a symbol of solidarity.

“I chose the destroyed walls because they convey the messages more faithfully, these walls show everyone how the criminal regime has destroyed them, as well as the people demanding freedom and a dignified life,” the artist tells Efe.

Al-Asmar has painted five murals across Idlib, each depicting a different scene of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

From a caricature of Russian president Vladimir Putin gripping a rifle, the face of a desperate woman and the image of a bear as a symbol of Russia roaring fiercely, the artist wants to show how the suffering caused by Russia has no borders.

“We feel their pain and their forced displacement, we feel the bombings of their homes, because we have lived through this war in Syria and we are still living it,” al-Asmar, 50 says.

The son of a calligrapher and nephew of painters, al-Asmar was born into a creative family.

But when mass protests against the al-Bashar regime erupted in 2011, the artist was forced to leave his native town of Binsh, in the Idlib province, to Lebanon, where he worked for a publishing house.

It was when the uprisings turned into warfare that al-Asmar returned to Syria and moved his art from paper to walls to denounce violence and destruction around the world.

Since February 24, the day Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the artist has focused on the walls specifically destroyed by Russian attacks in Syria.

“We are the ones who feel the suffering of those people the most, because the Ukrainian scene is an episode in a series of Russian crimes,” he says.

Over 3 million people from Idlib have been displaced to other parts of Syria, where Russia has been intervening militarily since 2015 and played a key role in Damascus’ capture of rebel areas in recent years.

“Sometimes the mural costs two dollars, but it can spread a wider message of the noble and pure ‘revolution’ to the whole world” al-Asmar adds. EFE


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