Adnan Alahmad left war-torn Aleppo, Syria, with his wife, two adult children and seven hundred paintings by the best of Syrian’s artists. Their journey took them to Lebanon, and Mersin, Turkey, before arriving in Istanbul last summer. I met him and his family at the “Syrian Plastik Arts” exhibition at the Marmara University campus in Sultanahmet, Istanbul, just beside the Blue Mosque. The show aimed to introduce contemporary Syrian artwork to Turkish art lovers and tourists, as well as to support artists inside war-torn Syria and those now living in other countries.
“We left a thousand paintings behind.” The pain in Adnan’s eyes spoke volumes. For twenty years he had built a life around his gallery in Syria, where he also encouraged and developed young talent through an organization called Fine Vision. But, his art show in Istanbul drew few visitors.
His daughter Zain Alahmad is a painter who had two pieces in the exhibition. Both depicted a charred Aleppo cityscape with bold black strokes on lengthy white and brown canvases. She holds a fine arts degree from Aleppo University and had been teaching art before having to leave her home. Adnan’s son Ahmad Karam Alamad is studying Turkish and hoping to continue his studies in computer science while in Istanbul. His wife Aruoba Moubayed Alamad, whom Adnan met while the two of them attended law school at Aleppo University, had been his partner in their former gallery as well as a practicing attorney. “We shared a big love story,” he said, causing his wife to smile. Only minutes before she had broken into tears when gazing at one of the paintings. “When not in school, our children spent their time in the gallery doing homework, drawing, or playing with friends, surrounded by works of art.”
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The painting above is a detail of Zain Alamad’s work that appeared in the “Syrian Plastik Arts” Exhibition in Istanbul.