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13.31 4 Apr 2018


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One artist is drawing attention to the refugee crisis in a different way.

Abdalla Al Omari's paintings depict people struggling in harsh conditions and looking downtrodden and defeated.

However, a closer inspection shows that the faces of these people are actually world leaders.

From Assad to May, Putin to Trump, Omari has re-imagined those searching for a place to call home.

Abdalla Al Omari stands next to his depiction of Barack Obama | Image: abdallaomari.com

He graduated from the University of Damascus with a degree in English Literature while also attending the Adham Ismail Institute for Visual Arts.

He has also worked with Syrian artists Ghassan Sibai and Fouad Dahdouh.

Now based in Belgium, where he began the paintings known as 'The Vulnerability Series', he also works in video and performance art.

Image: abdallaomari.com

The paintings have moved around the globe - having already been showcased in Dubai, Hamburg and Tbilisi, Georgia.

On his collection, Omari says: "Even I felt sorry for (my version of) Assad.

"In this universe without gravity, all we can hold on to is our vulnerability.

"This invisible wind makes our chest heavy, yet, mysteriously propels us back on our feet again.

"I have convinced myself it is the strongest weapon humankind possesses, way more powerful than the trail of power games, bomb craters and bullet holes in our collective memories. Vulnerability is a gift we should all celebrate."

Abdalla Al Omari's depiction of Bashar Al-Assad | Image: abdallaomari.com

Another part of the series, called 'The Boat', shows world leaders together in a rickety wooden boat as refugees trying to find a better future.

He says it "emphasises the shared responsibility for the state of the world."

Abdalla Al Omari stands next to his piece, 'The Boat' | Image: abdallaomari.com

"The painting can be viewed as a work in progress, as leadership is passed on and all problems inherited.

"One can find the faces of Xi, Trump, Obama, Merkel, Macron, Orban, Assad, May, Kim Jong Un, Cameron, Putin, Modi, King Salman, El Khameini.

A close-up of 'The Boat' | Image: abdallaomari.com

"The leaders are often shown in provocative combinations, ironically challenging current relations between them."

He says 'The Boat' is "a work in progress, as leadership is passed on and problems inherited."


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