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Cartooning Syria... And the Rest of the World: Art Exhibition

On 6 December 2020, and as part of Celebrating Syria Festival , we were joined by 5 amazing Cartoonists whose work is admired all over the globe to launch the exhibition of “Cartooning Syria... And the Rest of the World”. Cartoonists Hani Abbas (Switzerland), Diala Brisly (France), Amany al Ali (Idlib, Syria), Mwafaq Katt (Toronto), Jawad Morad (Erbil, North Iraq) and organiser/curator Ronald Bos (Amsterdam) joined us from their homes to talk about their work and the Cartooning Syria project. It was a thought-provoking event.

While the Syrian Regime and its Russian allies continue to bomb civilians in the North of Syria, the world has witnessed quite a dramatic year in 2020, from the devastating explosion in Beirut to populist politics in the USA, to the murder of George Floyd and the recent terrorist attacks in France. Syrian cartoonists, in Syria and in exile, have been responding, documenting and commenting on these global events, keeping Syria at the heart of their work, especially as the Syrian issue falls by the wayside in mainstream media.

Alone but together, Syrian cartoonists continue to play their role as global citizens, standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement for example, and reflecting on the most wide reaching event of the year worldwide: Coronavirus!

This new virtual exhibition features more than a hundred new cartoons by 32 Syrian artists in collaboration with Cartooning Syria, a project that started in 2017 in Amsterdam and has held several exhibitions across the Netherlands, Norway and Germany. This is Cartooning Syria’s first virtual exhibition.

Meet the Artists:

Hani Abbas (1977, Yarmouk refugee camp, Damascus, Syria) lives in Geneva. He graduated from the Faculty of Education at the University of Damascus in 1999 and established solo comic exhibitions since 1998 in Syria and other Arab countries. He has a background as a primary school teacher and taught in that capacity grade 1 to 6 in Damascus for fifteen years, before he was forced to leave Syria. Hani Abbas first ended up in the North of Lebanon in 2013 and then moved on to Geneva, where he obtained political asylum in 2014, with his wife and son. Hani Abbas’s cartoons talk about human rights, freedom and the pain of displacement.

Hani Abbas is currently a freelance cartoonist for newspapers, magazines and other media platforms such as Charlie Hebdo, Al Jazeera and Al Modon, and since April 2014 he is a freelance collaborator to the International School of Geneva, where he teaches the course Cartooning for Peace.

Amany Al-Ali (1984, Idlib) lives in Idlib. She studied computer engineering in Aleppo. She has been a cartoonist and journalist for Souriatna Newspaper in Idlib since 2015. From 2009- 2011 she was a drawing teacher at Assada Private School in Idlib and after that Kindergarten Manager.

Diala Brisly (1980, Kuwait) lives in Paris. She grew up in Damascus and began as a cartoonist at the Syrian-based Spacetoon TV channel in 2001, where she received her first training. After that she worked as a layout artist for the fledgling cartoon series Dumtum Salimeen. Since then she has focused her career on a variety of media, including layout design, animation, concept art, painting, comic books, character design, and she did work on twelve short and feature length animation films, and six television shows for channels such as the BBC and Aljazeera Kids. She contributed to the Adra Women’s Prison hunger strike campaign, which helped secure the release of twenty-three female prisoners. In 2011 she fled to Beirut, and in 2016 to Paris. Her artistic and activist work has also been featured in Le Monde and Deutsche Welle.

Jawad Murad (1983, Maliki/Damascus) lives in Erbil in Kurdistan, northern Iraq. He is a journalist and cartoonist. Murad studied Archeology in Damascus and Art at the Institute of Adham Ismail in Damascus (2010-2012). Murad worked for newspapers and websites. He has staged several solo exhibitions, the most recent in Duhok (2013) and Erbil (2013 and 2016).

Ronald Bos (1948) is a Dutch documentary maker and publicist about writers and poets, among them Faraj Bayrakdar. He worked for the Dutch Foundation for Literature and was a board member of Dutch PEN. Ronald Bos is the initiator and curator of Cartooning Syria.


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