mercoledì 5 febbraio 2014

A Tale of Love and Revolution - Burhan Karkutli

Burhan Karkutli, was a Syrian Arab artist with a strong Palestinian and Arab sense of belonging. Born in Damascus in 1932, he studied the art of painting in Cairo, Madrid and Berlin and lived in Syria and Morocco before settling in Germany for the last 30 years of his life. His artistic works were exhibited in several Arab capitals, in many European countries, in some countries in Latin America, and in most cities and towns of Germany. 
Karkutli produced many paintings and had many exhibitions between the late 60s and the early 90s. He moved a lot, carrying his paintings with him from one city to another, exhibiting his works in art halls, universities and schools, in the alleys, streets and on the corners of popular neighbourhoods. He never sought fame; on the contrary, fame was always following him. He was very humane and made sure that he never harmed or hurt anyone even unintentionally. He loved to help others. He was adamant in clinging to his principles at all costs.

Karkutli believed in Palestine and in the right of Palestinians to their homeland - all of it. When the Oslo Accords were declared, he read them and thought deeply about them but was not convinced, and he declared his opposition to them, which cost him a lot. He felt frustrated, which caused him to abandon painting. Following Oslo, Karkutli became a storyteller at popular German theatres. He told people popular Arab stories in German and made them smile. He told them about the many Arab causes, mainly the issue of Palestine, through cynical and symbolic stories he used to invent. He was an interesting speaker to whom one would want to listen for hours.

Karkutli’s paintings were popular and loved all over the Arab world. Palestine was always present in his paintings and works and was the theme and inspiration for most of his works of the 70s and 80s. “Jerusalem is Ours and Victory is Ours" (1975) is probably his most famous painting. His works were among the most important pieces to be shown at exhibitions organised by the Palestinian Artists’ Federation worldwide. Karkutli specialized in graphic art (i.e. painting with black ink in all its variations). He used to colour some of his black and white works with popular primary colours. He made some oil paintings but most of his works were graphic drawings in black and white. 

As he became more experienced in the field of painting, Karkutli tackled topics from popular folklore and portrayed images of  Arab life and in particular Syrian life. In the late sixties, the Palestinian cause became his obsession and main theme, but he did not give up the painting and drawing of popular life in Greater Syria. He loved to paint Arab and Palestinian young girls and women with their beautiful eyes and slender shapely bodies, in addition to the portrayal of popular occasions such as feasts and weddings. He also drew portraits of Arab and Palestinian figures such as Sheikh Izziddin Al-Qassam and Abdul Qader Al-Husseini. He used Arab (and sometimes western) handwriting as an ornamental style in most of his works as an important aesthetic element that distinguished his art and as a means of conveying his message which was in the form of words, verses, poetry, or rhymes.... 

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