Lina Aljijakli, a 35-year-old Syrian born in the war-torn city of Hama, is one of many immigrants seeking asylum in France. While freedom of expression has been compromised in Syria, she is being offered a chance to reclaim her voice through exhibiting at the Grand Palais Royal, along with works by 14 other exiled artists.
“You never know what could happen. You could get arrested, get killed,” Aljijakli told Reuters TV. In total, there are around 150 artists from 20 countries who are supported by the atelier while they seek asylum in France, and are provided with work space, supplies and exposure.
This haunting painting against a blue background represents the suffering of Syrian women who have been imprisoned and separated from their children, as well as those who choose to make the dangerous sea-crossing in pursuit of safety.
“It’s about time that tradition is renewed,” Judith Depaule, who set up the atelier, told Reuters. “Art and French culture have a lot to learn from this melting pot, from this contribution from other cultures.”
Syrian filmmaker Mohammad Hijazi, aged 29, has also spoken about this renewal in perception. “My hope is […] to tell the world that we are able to produce work not simply because we have a war or a revolt, or a conflict, or fighting.”