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Street artist from Syria

Street artist from Syria

By: Kamran Tanner

Abu Malik al-Shami is a Syrian rebel fighter who favours paint over guns.

Abu Malik al-Shami

A girl pointing to a heart – teaching a soldier about love, before he goes out to fight.

He sprays his murals across the transient backdrop of war, the ruins of Darayya – the blackboard of an abandoned school, slabs from a back-broken bridge. His paintings flash brief, indefinite lives amongst the smouldering grey. A girl climbs a mountain of skulls to etch “Hope” onto the corner of a caved in roof. Elsewhere, a caption next to the picture of a despondent, bombarded mother reads with forthright irony “Happy Mother’s Day”.

Abu Malik al-Shami

This caption reads "Happy Mother's Day" – in the Arab world, the holiday is celebrated on 21st March.

Shami’s work is poignant because of its relevance. The message is immediately identifiable – the motif of peace explicit because of the martial theme. The effectiveness is in the simplicity of his iconology. His art is accessible and non-confrontational. A child points to love, the innocent lead the way; it’s a sideline commentary on the civil war, rendered from frontline experience. It speaks to everyone equally, judging on repercussion and not on motive.

Abu Malik al-Shami

 

Abu Malik al-Shami

The Xs represent Russian and Syrian warplanes, and the Os represent tyres which children in Aleppo have been burning in order to create smokescreens.