“The voices of artists today rise to counter destruction and violence, to make sense of it and to persevere. Their talents and work are sources of hope, identity and inspiration for future generations.” -Shireen Atassi
Waiting and hoping for the best is not an option for Shireen Atassi, who left behind a successful corporate career to tackle the infrastructural challenges faced by Syrian art.
Throughout the region private individuals and their ventures have shaped the art scene and cultural ecosystem. To examine these practices further, Mathqaf sat down with Shireen Atassi from the Atassi Foundation to talk about her family’s long-term support for Syrian arts and the work of their foundation.
How Two Syrian Women Are Sharing Their Country’s Artistic Heritage with the World
يمكن اعتبار مشروع المجلة الفنية الذي تعمل عليها واحدة من أعرق صالات العرض السورية، غاليري أتاسي، على موقعها الإلكتروني، كمبادرة من قبل خبراء ومختصين في تاريخ الفن السوري وفاعلين نشطاء فيه. منذ العام 2012، توقفت الغاليري عن إقامة المعارض في سورية وانتقلت إلى دبي، فاعلةً في عدة مشاريع من معارض وإصدارات مطبوعة، أما بالنسبة للمجلة الإلكترونية النقدية، فبلغت عددها السابع. لكل من هذه الأعداد ملف، أربعة منها تتعلق بموضوعات والأربعة الأخرى تتعلق بمدن.
Women have played key patronage roles in the history of art—from the Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut, through Renaissance patrons such as Marie de’ Medici, to Peggy Guggenheim—but they’ve long been the minority of collectors recognized for their contributions. One analysis of ARTnews’s list of top collectors found that only 10 percent were lone females, perhaps a reflection of the outsized economic power still held by men.
DUBAI: “We need to tell the story of Syria in a very different way,” says Shireen Atassi, the Dubai-based director of the Atassi Foundation. “A way far from the destruction, which is not us and does not represent us.”
The Atassi Foundation’s latest exhibition, Personal Revolutions, celebrates the life and work of women artists from Syria across different generations. The show, curated by founder Mouna Atassi, looks at the journeys of these artists in the context of their personal development as well as the wider backdrop of the intense social and political changes in Syria from the early 20th century to the present day.
To celebrate the start of @artdubai today, we’re putting the spotlight on Dubai’s female art pioneers, starting with the Director of the Atassi Foundation, Shireen Atassi. “The voices of artists today rise to counter destruction and violence, to make sense of it and to persevere. Their talents and work are sources of hope, identity and inspiration for future generations.”
Think of Syrian modernists and most likely, you will think of a man: Fateh Moudarres, Mahmoud Hamad, Louay Kayyali. In fact, most of the regional modernists in the history books are male, which is one of the reasons why the pop-up exhibition from Dubai-based Atassi Foundation is so refreshing. Personal Revolutions is a show curated by women revealing the depth of female creativity across almost a century of practice and offers a window into an unknown side of art from Syria.
Don’t miss the guest project housed at Atassi Foundation: a group exhibition from ground-breaking female Syrian artists, running from 9 March to 8 April, which also includes work by renowned Syrian Dubai-based fashion designer Rami Ali Ali.
من قلبِ حي السِرْكَال المجنون النابض بالحياةِ في دبي، افتَتَحت مؤسسة أتاسي غير الربحيّة، معرض "ثورات شخصيّة" يوم 9 مارس الحالي مُكمّلةً المشهد الفنيّ المُتنامي في الحي، للاحتفاء بالفنّانة السورية التي "لم تُكرّم حتى اليوم"، وفقاً لشيرين أتاسي، مديرة المؤسّسة.
ولفتت أتاسي في حديثها مع رصيف22 إلى أن اسم المعرض يعود إلى الثورات التي تقوم بها الفنّانات السوريات، على كافّة المستويات: الفنيّة والثقافيّة والاجتماعيّة وحتى السياسيّة.
The Atassi Foundation’s latest exhibition in Dubai is titled, In the Age of the New Media. So visitors might be surprised to find that the show features paintings and a sculpture by well-known Syrian artists Elias Zayat, Ziad Dalloul, Youssef Abdelke, Layla Muraywid and Kevork Mourad. In our digital age, when artists are experimenting with various new media, this show celebrates the traditional art of painting and the power and beauty of classical masterpieces that are timeless.
"A patron is not simply a collector who gathers works of art for his own pleasure or a philanthropist who helps artists or founds a public museum, but a person who feels responsibility towards both art and artists together and has the means and will to act upon this feeling."...
The Atassi Foundation is a visual arts initiative seeking to preserve, promote and offer support to Syrian artists and the Syrian diaspora through a wide range of outputs including exhibitions, publications, research and education. The beginnings of the foundation stem from a collecting family legacy that began in 1986 with...
من الأم المثال لدى الفنانين الرواد في سوريا، مروراً بالآلهة التدمرية، وصولأ إلى الفن الشعبي مع الأيقونة السورية إلى جيل يتحدى "داعش"، يجسّد فنّ الوجه والجسد أهم معالم الفن السوري.
The inaugural exhibition at Concrete highlights the trajectories and shifts of art movements in Syria and its socio-cultural histories, from the early 20th century until the present day
The inaugural show at Alserkal Avenue’s Concrete brings Syrian art out from the shadows, focusing on portraits and figurative works from the Atassi Foundation
Alserkal Avenue opens its new multi-disciplinary venue Concrete during Dubai’s Art Week with an exhibition of Modern Syrian art from the collection of the Atassi Foundation.
Syria: Into the Light will be the foundation’s largest-ever exhibition and its first in the MENA region. Curated by
For decades Syrian art was underrepresented internationally in fairs and exhibitions, with few books or specialist curators and no collector base to match that...
In 1986, Mouna Atassi and her sister Mayla opened a small bookshop in their home city of Homs in Syria. Soon it was so popular that they opened a gallery in the attic that functioned not only as an exhibition space, but also as an important gathering place for intellectuals, critics and artists.
Fateh Moudarres, Elias Zayat, Nazir Nabaa and Ahmad Draq Sibai were some of the regular visitors and the Atassis began to collect artworks.
The sisters went their separate ways in the 1990s, with Mayla opening Green Art Gallery in Dubai and Mouna moving her gallery to Damascus, but they.....
One is unable at times to understand what is going on in Syria in light of the flood of daily news stories, as in every war, waste a lot of humanitarian details in the midst of death and destruction, hunger and oppression.
Here lies the importance of art more than ever, Regardless of whether a photograph or a painting or a film or a carved image, commemorates the event or a moment in a humane art touch the emotions more than numbers and statistics, and in a language addressing any person whatever moved away from the Syrian affairs. For the director of Atassi Foundation for Arts and Culture, Shireen Atassi, the role of art in this stage is to give a pretty civilized image of the Syrian people, away from the war, displacement, and massacres.
It was November 2012 when Mona Atassi and her family watched Syria fall apart. They had understood then that a return was not possible, at least not for years. In those grim moments, Atassi, a stalwart figure of the Syrian and Arab art scenes, felt that she had to set up a foundation to safeguard modern and contemporary Syrian art.
"I just knew I had to do this, it was like a light went on," she recalls. "I wanted to establish something to support and encourage Syrian art, far from the insanity that we were and are still seeing."
Atassi Foundation’s inaugural project, A Syrian Chronology, will first be shown as part of Art Dubai Projects (16 - 19 March 2016). Produced by Syrian film director Hala Alabdalla and artist Khaled Barakeh, the commissioned mixed media installation will utilize the Foundation’s extensive archival material from Atassi Gallery’s 30 year history to weave together the story of art in Syria.