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New artists are emerging from this atelier in Paris | Skitterphoto/Pixabay
New artists are emerging from this atelier in Paris | Skitterphoto/Pixabay | Artist studio | © Skitterphoto / Pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/brushes-painter-work-shop-bowl-3129361/
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Paris Atelier Provides Safe Haven for Exiled Artists

Picture of Jade Cuttle
Updated: 12 February 2018
Paris entices millions of art-lovers each year to marvel at the mind-bending contemporary art of the Pompidou, and the ancient masterpieces of the world’s largest art museum, The Louvre. Yet there’s a new wave of talent in town with this atelier for exiled artists. A large studio in Paris’ 18th arrondissement has been transformed into a dedicated safe haven for some 150 exiled artists to express themselves freely. Driven by war and poverty, these artists have fled conflict in countries like Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Iran, arriving in Paris with powerful stories to share.

• LINA ALJIJAKlI • © Thibaut Chapotot

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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.”

• MOHAMMAD HIJAZI • ©Thibaut Chapotot

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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.”