Mykotori

Paris atelier provides safe haven for exiled artists from Iran, Afghanistan

A large studio in Paris’ 18th arrondissement has become a dedicated workspace for some 150 exiled artists from countries such as Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Iran.

Paris, whose bohemian culture attracted some of the world’s finest painters at the turn of the 20th century, is opening its doors to a new wave of talent, driven its way this time by war and poverty.

 

Lina Aljijakli, a 35-year-old Syrian born in the now war-ravaged city of Hama, is one of a record number of immigrants seeking asylum in France. Her art is being exhibited at the grand Palais Royal along with works by 14 other exiled artists.

She said freedom of expression was compromised in Syria, where a seven-year civil war has killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced millions from their homes.

“You never knew what could happen. You could get arrested, get killed,” Aljijakli told Reuters TV.

A large studio in Paris’ 18th arrondissement has become a dedicated workspace for some 150 exiled artists from countries such as Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Iran. It has provided Aljijakli with a sanctuary from where she can express her emotions on canvas.

One of her works on display in the former royal palace shows faces of women and children outlined against a blue background. The painting represents the suffering of Syrian women imprisoned and separated from their children, she says, of women hurt by aerial bombardments and of women who make the perilous sea-crossing in search of safety.

DylanThomas

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