Oroubah Dieb at the workshop of artists in exile in Paris Photography: Céline Anaya Gautier
In his gallery Terrain Vagh, located in the Latin Quarter, opposite the Institut du Monde Arabe, Alain Vagh-Weinmann is keen to propose exhibitions committed to showcasing artists from Mediterranean countries. On Saturday 20 of June 2020, on the occasion of World Refugee Day, "Material in Exile", an exhibition of work by the Syrian artist, Oroubah Dieb, launched there.
Population displacement is at the heart of Oroubah Dieb‘s work. The artist left Damascus in 2012, seven years after founding a private art school there with her husband, also a painter and sculptor. In her paintings the artist paints and tells the story of exile, her exile far from Damascus, and far from a daily life that was happy. Between abstraction and figuration, her work is crossed by the themes of exile, love, memory: “Leaving Damascus was the hardest decision I ever made.” This city fascinated her for more than forty years, and she fulfilled her dreams there. “I fell in love there, got married there, gave birth to my children there. Everything was wonderful.” A few days before leaving, Urubah wandered the streets of Damascus with the feeling that she would never see her again. “I was abandoning the place of my memories.” The war spares no one. “A few days before we left, my husband and I closed our workshop without knowing what would happen next.”
The exodus, materials for creation
On the canvas, the forms of his collages and paintings express themselves freely. Emerging in the foreground, in a free and uncluttered space on large canvases, colourful characters, human presences, women, men, children, bundles, come to life, order themselves, free themselves from reality and travel through time to discover another territory, with only their memory as their baggage. They walk along the path of a new life, carried by fluid, vibrant and rhythmic colours, the colourful and luminous colours of the traditional Syrian peasant clothing.
Dieb participates in many artistic events all over Europe and his works are exhibited all over the world, in Beirut, Dubai and many other cities. Much of his art embodies the experience of life in exile that refugees are forced to face. His paintings depict the dramatic situations they encounter, as well as their suffering and misery.
In Paris, where she’s living since 2016, Dieb works at the “Artistes en exil” studio. This association helps exiled artists, because “refugee is not a profession”, and gives them the means to test their practice and to restructure themselves.