“We are condemned to hope”. This saying of the Syrian playwright Saadallah Wannous inspires Syrian-Palestinian artist Oussama Diab. His life, but also the life of his family and his parents who by the time fled from Palestine, is determined by war and by the fate to have to live as a stateless person and as a refugee. But Diab adheres to the conviction that there will always be hope and that we have to keep on searching for humanity and the beauty of life.
In October 2015 Diab fled from the devastating war in Syria, after having lived for three years in Libanon together with his wife. Since then he has been living in the Netherlands, waiting for a residence permit and looking forward to be reunited with his wife and their one year old son.
In his first solo exhibition in Europe Diab’s recent work is shown under the title Black and White… Memories. In this work his memories show up: often depicted by experiences of loss, violence and fear, but at the same time and in spite of everything living from hope – hope for himself, for his family, his people, his anguished home land. His conviction that every refugee and every stateless person is a human being who deserves to live, to have a nationality and a safe fatherland, can be sensed.
Memories are being carried in a knapsack, carried by every person who is on the run. Memories are found in a pained horse, in the Arabic culture a symbol of freedom and purity; an olive tree, so closely connected to the culture of Palestinian people; flowers as a token of hope; a reaching hand…
A life size human figure is found alone in a monumental triptych, fearfully withdrawn in the corner of a room where danger is at hand. This figures knows that we need each other. A series of portraits show us the face of the artist, of man, who needs oxygen, the freedom to live and to keep on searching for truth. From where came these hands that cover eyes, ears and mouth?
Much of the work in this exhibition is in black and white. Diab recently started using charcoal, this filthy and gloomy material, that goes together so well with the themes he is raising. But always there is also colors and soft, smooth lines.
Oussama Diab, born in Damascus (Syrië) in 1977, studied at the Damascus School of Fine Arts. He is the recipient of numerous awards. Solo-exhibitions of his work where organised in, amongst others, Syria, USA, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon. He participated in group exhibitions in, amongst others, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Korea, USA and Canada. For many years he worked with Ayyam Gallery in Damascus, Beirut and Dubai. His work was sold in renowned auctions like Christie’s.