The development of Syrian art

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Art is known as the ability to self-examine, as it allows people to express themselves and their surroundings in a visual, auditory, or dynamic manner. Art is also used to transmit the emotion and conflicts of human beings, and it highlights social issues. In this article, we will present the origin and development of art in Syria.

Fine arts:

Art critics and historians consider the beginning of the twentieth century the beginning of contemporary fine arts in Syria. The social and political changes in that era left traces in the progress of fine arts. Influenced by European art, the styles of realism and impressionism were the first to appear. During the 1930s and 1940s, an exceptional interest in art led to teaching it in Syrian schools, bringing art teachers from France and sending Syrian students to study art in Europe.

In 1940, the first fine art association was establised, and it held a collective exhibition in the Faculty of Law at the Damascus University. Art associations then spread, especially after Syria's independence in 1946. The first manifestation of the Syrian government's sponsorship of art was the first annual exhibition in 1950, in which the best participants were awarded; this exhibition became an annual tradition.

While impressionism was still thriving during the 1950s, new trends began to appear. Some artists sought a contemporary style with a unique Arab identity, using calligraphy and decoration, and others based their art on the artistic heritage of Syrian cultural history. At the beginning of the 1960s, the Syrian Ministry of Culture was established and given the responsibility to sponsor arts and establish the Faculty of Fine Arts, socially acknowledging the status and importance of Syrian fine arts. This acknowledgment reached its peak in the 1970s, when several Syrian artists were decorated with high official medals.

The official support of fine arts grew stronger in the last decades of the twentieth century, as galleries were opened and more artworks were collected by the museum of modern arts and the modern presidential palaces.

One of the most distinguished pioneers and leaders of the modern Syrian art movement was Fateh Moudarres (1922 – 1999), who studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome and was influenced by surrealism. Moudarres is considered the father of Syrian surrealism. Since his death, the value of his paintings kept rising gradually, and one of his paintings was sold for 315,750 US dollars.

Another distinguished Syrian artist was Louay Kayali (1934 – 1978) from Aleppo, who won the second prize of the 1955 annual art exhibition at the University of Damascus. In 1956, the Syrian Ministry of Education sent Kayali to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy, after he won another competition by the ministry. In Italy, Kayali won the first prize of the Italian-Arabic Relations Center's Sicilia competition, and other prizes like the 1959 Ravenna competition's gold medal for foreigners.

Theater:

The first Arabic theater house was established in Damascus by the Syrian and Arabic theater pioneer, Ahmad Abou Khalil Qabbani, in 1871. Accusations of "corrupting women and children and spreading prostitution and lechery" made the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid close this theater in 1884; the house was then burned, forcing Qabbani to emigrate to Egypt.

The second rise of Syrian theater relates to Abdul Wahab Aboul Suud, who founded his group in Damascus in 1912. Suud was an actor, writer and director. Al-Arnaout, a writer and translator, also became famous when he wrote the play "Djemal Pasha the Slayer".

Theater activity stopped during the great Syrian Revolution, but resumed with the revolution's end in 1928. A new generation of young men with new ideas and aims pushed the theater in another direction. Touches of realism that began to appear in theater acting, speech and stage setting attracted a wide audience in most of the Syrian cities. Civil, public and foreign schools began to teach acting, and women's associations took an interest in theater. The Classical Arabic language was adopted in all the serious theater performances, although this new theater era avoided political confrontation.

Syrian theater stayed that way until the establishment of the Intellect and Art Forum, supervised by Dr. Rafiq al-Sabban, in 1959. The forum included all the major cultural and artistic figures of that time. In 1960, the Ministry of Culture established the National Theater Group, which gathered members of the private theater groups, clubs and associations, such as Abdul Latif Fathi and Saadul Din Baqdounes, to create the cornerstone of a new, government-financed and guided theater.

One of the most distinguished Syrian theater figures is Fawaz al-Sajer, who founded an experimental theater group with Sadallah Wannous in 1977. The group produced several plays, most famous of which is Brecht's "Turandot" or "The Whitewashers' Congress," which Hafez al-Assad's government banned.

As a result of political and social change in Syria, an economic distress that hit the Middle East in the 1980s, and the rise of the Syrian TV drama, the role of theater declined and a large number of actors, writers and directors moved to work in TV, which provided fast economic prosperity and fame.

Music and singing:

The twentieth century was the beginning of a real rise for music, thanks to musical clubs that managed to exist despite all the difficulties they faced relating to religious and social beliefs. Intellectual bourgeoisie frequented these clubs. The musician Shafiq Shbeib was the first to establish a musical club in Damascus in 1914, under the name Eastern Music Club. In 1927, Tawfiq Fathallah al-Sabbagh established another club that gathered all musicians, unified their word, and fought for their rights.

Several clubs and institutions were also established in Aleppo, the most famous of which were the Fine Trades Club, the Aleppo Music Club, the al-Shahbaa Art Club, the Armenian Association Club, and the Catholic Club. Several important figures frequented these clubs, such as Sheikh Ali al-Darwish, Sheikh Omar al-Batsh, Ahmad al-Obari, Kamil Shambir, Saad Eddin al-Qudsi, Munib al-Naqshbandi, Rashid Mamelli, Mamdouh al-Jabri, Omar Abu Risha, and Majdi al-Aqili.     

The remaining Syrian cities lacked musical clubs able to gather creative musicians, except for the city of Homs, which was famous for the Dawhat al-Deimas Club, whose opening Shaykh Ali al-Darwish attended in 1934. The city of Latakia also had a music club run by Mahmoud al-Ajjan.

The music and instrument-playing curricula, which were exclusive to musical clubs and institutions, are considered improvisational, as they taught instruments in a random and unsystematic manner that could not produce a creative player. In 1943, the government established the Official Music Institute and approved official curricula.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the status of singing was better than that of instrument-playing. The arguments about different playing styles did not exist in singing and composing. Instead, singing took a more obvious track towards heritage. Music icons kept using the folkloric popular singing, such as the Muashah and Dawr, which are old Arabic singing methods that involve an Arabic poetic form and a traditional musical genre, and at the same time attempted to improve the art of the poem.

In 1960, the Ministry of Culture established the Arabic Institute of Music (recently Solhi al-Wadi institute), which used state of the art methods that music institutes around the world use to teach the primary stage students. The institute still operates today. In 1990, the Higher Institute of Music was established under the sponsorship of the Assad government.

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اعداد هبة دباس | تحرير هبة دباس | ترجمة نهى سالطي | تحرير الترجمة Vera Halvorsen 🕔 تم النشر بتاريخ : 3 أبريل، 2018 5:23:03 م تقرير موضوعي اجتماعيفن وثقافة ثقافة
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