The Euphrates Storyteller
February 16, 2023 - May 21, 2023
The Euphrates Storyteller exhibition explores the life and experiences of Aboud Salman as a refugee artist. It tells the artist’s tale of displacement, from his struggles and experiences amidst political turmoil and war in his home city of Al Mayadin, Syria, to his quest for peace miles away in Canada. Through a series of drawings, paintings, videos, and fabrics, the exhibition showcases a body of works that are both a personal portrayal of the artist’s life, and simultaneously a visual exploration of traditional Syrian folk art and it’s cultural and historical symbols.
Co-curated by Manar Abo Touk and Mohsen Ahi Andy
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Aboud Salman’s career as a painter, plastic artist, educator, and writer has spanned more than three decades. Aboud has exhibited his art in 15 countries across Europe and the Middle East. He had a successful studio in his hometown Al Mayadin, Syria, where he lived with his wife Soaad and four sons and taught art to high school students. Soon after the Syria war started ISIS took control of his town. Aboud’s studio was bombed and much of his art destroyed. He also received death threats and in 2012 was forced to leave his family, town, country, and art behind.
On November 23, 2017 Aboud and his family arrived as refugees in Edmonton. Since his arrival in Edmonton, Aboud has been working to re-establish himself as a professional artist.
My paintings are a reflection and commentary of my experiences, and the life and environments that surround me. I express in them my Syrian Bedouin cultural roots, the people I have encountered, events I have witnessed and live through, and my thoughts and impressions of other cultural influences and art as I travel my life’s journey through time and space. My paintings are a window for everything that I think and live.
A core focus in my paintings are the customs and traditions of people in their human heritage, especially the specificity of the beauty of life and love within these. Syrian folk art and the symbols and colours from my original home by the Euphrates River provide the roots and deep nourishment of my artistic expression. The use of my colours and drawing often incorporates the symbol of life, fertility, giving, and creativity. Sadly, they also derive from experiences of pain, suffering, and loss when I express the daily realities of people living with war, oppression, struggles as refugees, and establishing a new life in new cultural surroundings. I aim to express the truth of man, place, and history in my artworks.
My artistic style and philosophical approach to art has been a continuously evolving, progressing from traditional folk art to more complex designs and themes using a range of materials and technical formats. Throughout nearly four decades of artistic expression I have explored formats ranging from ink drawings on paper, painting on canvas, to working with fabrics, clay, and ceramics. My paintings tell stories and convey ideas. The main shapes and themes in my paintings are composed of crowded details from old stories and legends, tattoos, and symbols of cultural and historical significance that form a distinct style and foundation of the art piece while communicating specific ideas and meanings. This allows me to visually represent experiences, cultural influences, geographical locations, as well as connected emotions and feelings in addition to the main subjects.
In my art I convey my thoughts and ideas towards the universe and the world.