Acryl on cardboard 70×50 ‘Men from Syria’

“I am happy when I paint – art makes me human,” Salam Ahmad says as he shows us his paintings, laying them out in front of us, one by one. Ahmad is a Kurd from Syria and had lived with his family in Switzerland for a little over a year when we visited him in the summer of 2015. His journey to a Swiss village near Olten was long and circuitous: formerly an art teacher at the Institute for Applied Art in Aleppo and a restorer at the Museum for Contemporary Art in Aleppo, he first escaped to a refugee camp in Turkey on his own in 2013 after being arrested and tortured. He then returned to Aleppo to get his family, his wife and two small children, out of Syria as well; together they then made the journey via Turkey to Switzerland. The work he shows us is all of recent date, his entire Syrian oeuvre was destroyed when he left his home in Aleppo. His present work consists of large and small-scale paintings, which predominantly engage with the female human figure. The larger works are acrylic on canvas and the smaller ones are in a mixed technique of acrylic and Chinese ink on paper.    Ahmad is largely an autodidact. He experimented with painting from an early age on and his desire was to attend the art school in Damascus. He did not know the right people in the regime, however, and was denied entry. He then studied philosophy and pursued art in his own manner, working as a painter and a poet. Ahmad says that the fact that he did not attend the official art school has been liberating for him; because he does not have to respect certain rules, he can be free of any canon. While working in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Aleppo, he was responsible for documenting Islamic weapons, mostly shields, which were decorated with battle scenes. These objects were full of human figures and the project proved influential in his development, giving him formal training in the approach to the human figure. read the full article

Exhibitions:

Collective and individual exhibitions in Syria from 2001 to 2011:

Ebla gallery 2001, 2002, Teshreen gallery 2001, 2002; Abou Romanna; 2003, Al Khanji gallery (silk way) 2004, 2005, arab cultural center – izaz 2005, the Al Jabal Arts 2005, Rakka 2006, Youth Art – Damascus 2006, Salute to Maghout – Saamieh 2006; Ashtar Gallery 2010; Spring Exhibition – Damascus 2010; Alkanje Gallery 2010; Unesco Beirut 2011;

Collective and individual exhibtions Europe and America:

Madrid (E), Arte Zug (CH), Arte Olten (CH), Art Sol (CH), Zofinger Kunsthaus 2015, Busner 2015, Springfield, Illiniois (USA), Shoninvert 2015 (CH), Bern (CH) 2015, Olten pro culture (CH), Bside Festival Luzern 2017, Amabac 2017 (CH), Berlin 2017, Freiburg 2017 (D)