Exhibition by Syrian painter in France to open on World Refugee Day

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Syrian sculptor and painter Oroubah Dieb. (Supplied)
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A poster publicising Materials in Exile, an exhibition of work by Syrian sculptor and painter Oroubah Dieb. (Supplied)
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Updated 17 June 2020

Exhibition by Syrian painter in France to open on World Refugee Day

  • Dieb is currently working at the Artists in Exile workshop in Paris and participates in art events across Europe
  • Much of her art embodies the experience of living in exile that refugees are forced to face

PARIS: To mark World Refugee Day, “Materials in Exile,” an exhibition of work by Syrian sculptor and painter Oroubah Dieb, will open at Galerie Terrain Vagh in Paris on June 20.

The artist left Damascus in 2012, seven years after founding a private art school in the city with her husband, Hammoud Shantout, who is also a painter and sculptor.

“We were the first to establish a private fine arts school for children and adults in Syria,” said Dieb. “We worked with schools and universities, and sponsored numerous exhibitions and activities.

“We launched the project seven years before we were forced to leave Syria. In 2012 we had to close the school and move to Lebanon due to the war that was ravaging the country. We could no longer remain, with our three girls, in our country and we could not take part in this war so we left Syria when our lives became impossible. We had to give up very good jobs and a comfortable life to go to Lebanon and France, where we have had to change our lives completely.”

Since leaving Syria, Dieb has worked to help refugees. In Lebanon, she taught art to children in the Khiara refugee camp. She has also worked with Syrian humanitarian and relief foundation Najda Now International, which has set up projects in Sabra and Shatila camps, which were originally set up for Palestinian refugees. They have a resident psychoanalyst, Dr. Yasser Moalla, and Dieb’s daughter Nour Shantout, who was studying at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts, an architectural university in Beirut.

“We were working in the camp on how to remedy the effects of war on children through the arts,” said Dieb. “We held many exhibitions at the French Embassy in Lebanon and also in downtown Beirut. There are Syrian refugees who have settled in the Sabra and Shatila camps and we worked with them.”

Dieb is currently working at the Artists in Exile workshop in Paris and participates in art events across Europe. Her work has been displayed around the world in Beirut, Dubai and many other cities. She said that much of her art embodies the experience of living in exile that refugees are forced to face. Her paintings depict the dramatic situations they encounter, and their suffering and misery.

“In my case, I was lucky enough to leave with my family on a plane when my daughter was already in France,” she said. “I had many acquaintances, so my situation was really very good compared with others.

“Still, the exile was a disaster for me because I had to give up everything I had worked for with my husband for 45 years in Syria. We arrived in France where no one knew us and where we had nothing but worries. This is my suffering — and I am well aware of the much greater drama and misery of millions of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.”

Materials in Exile by Oroubah Dieb will be at Galerie Terrain Vagh in Paris from June 20 to 30. The show has been organized by the gallery’s owners, Tunisian artist Moufida Atig and Judith Depaule of the Craftsmen’s Workshop.

The opening on June 20 will be accompanied by a series of events at the gallery, including performances by acclaimed Syrian singer Racha Rizk and young Syrian guitarist, Omar Harb, and a dance display by Mahmoud Al-Haddad from Egypt and Yara Hasbani from Syria. All of the day’s events will focus on the plight of refugees.


‘On the Rocks’ — Bill Murray is a steal in this dad-daughter outing

Updated 25 October 2020

‘On the Rocks’ — Bill Murray is a steal in this dad-daughter outing

CHENNAI: Bill Murray is the most endearing aspect from “On the Rocks,” Sofia Coppola’s seventh film as writer-director. Behind his trademark deadpan expression, Murray still has twinkle and mischief in his eyes. And he brings out the same kind of lonely wistfulness we saw in his earlier association with Coppola in 2003’s “Lost in Translation,” in which he and Scarlett Johansson meet in a Tokyo hotel and find comfort in each other. There was no romance there, as there is none in his latest outing as Felix. Daughter Laura (played by Rashida Jones, who has starred in “I Love You, Man” and “The Social Network”) is troubled thinking that her life is about to go into a tailspin. 

“On the Rocks” is now on Apple TV+. Supplied

“On the Rocks” — on Apple TV+ and set in New York — is just as sentimental and sweet as “Lost in Translation.” As Coppola’s latest adventure begins, we see Felix, who has made his millions as an art dealer, in the lap of luxury with a chauffeured Mercedes, first-class hotels and sensational magic in his persona. But having divorced his wife many moons ago, he longs to nurture the relationship with his daughter Laura, who is married to the very successful Dean (Marlon Wayans) with two lovely daughters. 

However, in a kind of mid-marriage crisis, Laura begins to have doubts about Dean’s fidelity, especially after he gets busy with his new professional venture that takes him away on frequent trips. His “leggy” assistant, Fiona, accompanies him, and Laura confides this to her dad, who weaves stories of all that could be happening between Dean and his assistant. Felix suggests that they follow the possibly philandering husband, and a troubled Laura gets talked into it.

“On the Rocks” has great moments, and is compelling to a great extent. Supplied

All this leads to hilarious situations with Felix always being in command, even when cops catch him speeding as he is trying to tail Dean’s cab. Wittily calm and composed, he is the sort of guy who will unabashedly say to a passing stranger that she looks ravishing and get away with it, much to his daughter’s consternation.

“On the Rocks” has great moments, and is compelling to a great extent, with Murray engaging us with full-of-life banter. Jones matches up to him, a nervous wife tottering on the edge of what has been a great marriage. She hides her angst with remarkable alacrity, trying to play a good mother to her kids, while her dad leads her up the garden path. “On the Rocks” is happily no weepy tale, and Coppola spices it up.