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The departure of the creative people, can only be exceptional Farewell Dr. AbdElKarimFaraj

Actually it is very rare to find this quantum of grief on an artistic personality, and a consensus on its deep effect especially among his scholars and young artists. He is Dr. AbdElKarim Faraj, the late Syrian Artist, who passed away recently. He made a tremendous impact on a whole generation of Syrian artists and in the Syrian artistic scene for decades.

It is noteworthy to say that I have been personally fortunate to interact with such a personality, since Dr. Faraj was a close friend of my father. I was blissful to see him on many occasions at my father's residence and to discuss his concerns about the artistic movement in Syria.

Yet this profundity of sorrowful emotions, do not really fit the sleeve of his artistic career. A deep reading of the transformations that plastic art has undergone in Europe towards modernity, in addition to the long experience that Dr. Abdul Karim Farag in the field of teaching art at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus, was one of the fundamental reasons behind the crystallization and maturity of his critical ideas.

There is a clear indication at the preface of his book entitled “Transformations of art in Europe towards modernity”, expressing his deep gratitude to the English critic Herbert Reed, In view of his scientific analytical vision in highlighting artistic experiences and their emergence from the depth of historical transformations.

Therefore, in order to put in front of the reader his critical concepts of plastic work and his philosophical vision in which he emphasizes the truth of the innate human consciousness. Faraj underlines the importance of understanding nature in its cosmic larger system,coming from his conviction in Herbert Reidviews; he is making with him a virtual dialogue in the introduction to the book.

Faraj confirms that the founding of artistic schools does not prove that they have taken successive steps towards progress. After their emergence, we see a retreat in their path, although we see a dynamic movement associated with their emergence, yet no adequate cultural benefit for future generations is made. He cites examples like: the art of pottery in Mesopotamia, wood carvings in the Elizabethan theater, and paintings in the city of Venice. This made him pose a substantial question: How did these innovative schools or movements appear and then disappear without achieving continuation in the march of future generations? The answer remains pending and needs research and studies to find out the reasons for this disappearance.

This question is always raised in artistic circles, and Abdul Karim Faraj was trying for decades to answer it, as he finds in societies that undergo comprehensive transformations. Experimentation must be the basis of the process of creation and creativity. Creating such visional worlds would be a motivation to create  new visions and theories in art.

At the end of his book, Abdul Karim Farag summarizes his significant results regarding modern art: “This shocking development in the trends of modern painting, no one has the ability to draw a future blueprint for the image of the upcoming contemporary modernity;because the speed of development, evolution and surprises cannot be accurately predicted.”

It is noteworthy to know from his biographythat Farag is from Gharia village, Sweida, 1943.He obtained a BA in engraving at the Faculty of Fine Arts at Damascus University in 1971. He is a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw,since he completed his artistic studies in Bologna, where he stayed for 11 years and was interested in researching Polish plastic art. He earned a Ph.D. doctorate in art history from the University of Warsaw in 1984.He held as well the position of Dean of the College of Fine Arts in Damascus and the College of Fine Arts in Sweida from 2005-2009. He holds several local and international awards, including the Order of Merit with a knight’s rank from Bologna, and has participated in local and international artistic events and has books on art at the University of Damascus, College of Fine Arts.

What certainly remains are his artistic work and some of his words:  “Yes, I studied in my rural environment in Jabal al-Arab, which was and still is my inspiration in enriching creative motives. I passed my childhood and youth in this pastoral society, and when I sought to see something new within myself, I would turn to the people, the land and the houses; which acquired splendor and manifestation from confronting challenges and over long ages. They were and still are impressions and influences in front of my eyes and in my sentiments, so I painted everything that I see around me, including people, walls, houses, trees and fields.Indeed my vision was absolutely impressionistic and influential. By constantly dealing with these feelings and implementing them in the language of printed graphic art.Influences that pushed me to the depths of my sentimentalities, memories and suffering, accompanied by my family in the fields, farms, vineyards and all the necessities of their daily lives.

From these inspirational influences, my work in the field of engraving and printing began to deepen their visions.  I was looking at nature on the surface of the metal-wooden clutch that it appeals to my soul with symbolic and expressive new sceneries filled with the spirit of the earth and transformed into abstract spaces, but full of expressive and symbolic connotations that give nature a new garment”.


May your soul rest in peace Abdul Karim Farag.

Report: Lama Alhassanieh