Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Kurds voted for Kurdish Independence

The Kurds, along with all ethnic and religious minorities in the southern Kurdistan region, voted in a referendum on Kurdistan independence on 25 September 2017.

The Kurds, with great enthusiasm and determination, went to the polls in spite of the threats of Iraq and the other three dictatorial and racist states (Turkey, Iran and Syria) who are in the possession of the other three parts of Kurdistan.

The Supreme Independent Election Authority and the Kurdistan Referendum today 27-9-2017 announced the first official results of the referendum on Kurdish independence.

Participation in the referendum was 72.16%. Of the valid ballots, 92.73% was in favor of the independence of Kurdistan's southern part from Iraq and 7.27% of independence.

The Kurds are expecting and hoping to mediate large states and international organizations so that the Iraqi state can accept Kurdistan leaving Iraq by dialogue and peace.

We Kurds also look for the support and solidarity of the international community in favor of the self-evident democratic right to decide on their self-determination.

The Kurds are determined in every way and every honor to defend their great victory in the referendum and to realize the independence of Kurdistan.

The referendum was the first and at the same time the big step in the course of the Kurds for the independence of Kurdistan and this great day will not be late.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Kurds Decide on the Independence of Kurdistan

The Kurds, together with all the ethnic and religious minorities in the southern Kurdistan region on 25 September 2017, vote in a referendum on the self-evident, namely the independence of the southern Kurdistan region from the artificial and dissolute state called Iraq.

This part of Kurdistan has an area roughly like that of Austria or the Czech Republic and has a population of around 8-9 million inhabitants.

The status quo imposed by the then imperialist forces (England and France) in 1923 with the Lausanne agreement in cooperation with the two reactive and racist states of the region (Turkey of Kemal and Persian Shah) against the Kurdish nation and of Kurdistan now dissolves.

The independence of this part of Kurdistan is the beginning in the course of the struggle of the Kurdish nation, which has a population of about 50 million in total for the future united and independent Kurdistan.

So self-determination! 
Independence of Kurdistan now!

From the Campaign for the Independence of Kurdistan, Hewlêr 22-9-2017. Photo: Seid Veroj

From the Campaign for the Independence of Kurdistan, Hewlêr 22-9-2017. Photo: Kurdistan 24

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Group exhibition of the Visual Artists Association of Northern Greece, entitled "Art Trails in Olympus'

Group exhibition of the Visual Artists Association of Northern Greece, entitled "Art Trails in Olympus' at Center of Mediterranean Mosaics Dion

From 10/08/2016 to 09/10/2016

Call the group exhibition of the Visual Artists Association of Northern Greece

Poster of the group exhibition of the Visual Artists Association of Northern Greece

Landscape, 2016, acrylic, 25 x 30 cm

Landscape, 2016, acrylic, 25 x 30 cm

Landscape, 2016, acrylic, 25 x 30 cm

Landscape, 2016, acrylic, 25 x 30 cm

Landscape, 2016, acrylic, 25 x 30 cm

Landscape, 2016, acrylic, 25 x 30 cm

Landscape, 2016, acrylic, 25 x 30 cm

Landscape, 2016, acrylic, 25 x 30 cm

Landscape, 2016, acrylic, 25 x 30 cm

Landscape, 2016, acrylic, 25 x 30 cm

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Serhad’s engraving

Talking about Serhad’s work seems a hard venture as he is not an ordinary case. He left Kurdistan at the age of 20 to find shelter as a political refugee and settle down in Greece, where he has been living since 1984. He has accomplished his studies in Art and Engraving at the School of Visual and Applied Arts in the Faculty of Fine Arts of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH). In the meantime he created works of art and afterwards he has taught Art in Secondary schools until today. He got married to his Greek wife to make his own family of five.

Obviously, in order to attempt an approach of his work, a lucubration of the Kurdish history and art- particularly the contemporary one- should precede but this is not to be done in this short text. On the other hand Serhad’s case is a separate unit of its own. Additional difficulties arouse in its study, and these concern the Kurdish artists of European diaspora (dispersion) in general. Consequently the present text is an attempt to write down and highlight the most important elements of his artistic creation, his roots, his sources, the configuration of his identity and his bonds to the Kurdish, Greek and European art. This text is to give an additional general reference framework of his integration and role.

During an interview with the artist in May 2008 there derived some important information as well as answers to crucial questions without which this text couldn’t be written.

Serhad is a son of a family of fourteen. His family has been artistically and politically active. He was born in Tetwan, a city of 40,000 inhabitants (in 1964). Today there are 80,000 inhabitants.

Due to their political beliefs and actions, five of his siblings are in West Europe, three of them as asylum seekers, whereas one of his sisters is serving a life sentence in Turkish prisons in Kurdistan.

Serhad has demonstrated artistic talent at an early age, since he was in the first grades of primary school. A similar inclination has been demonstrated in seven of his siblings, too. His social-political and family background as well as his personal experiences were so strong, that they have left their marks upon his childhood and adolescence. Unfortunately there aren’t any paintings from the first years when he arrived in Greece, so we can’t detect any influences from the Kurdish environment in his artistic expression. These influences will appear later on, from a distant time and place (indirectly from his childhood), they will spring from the memory tank, reminiscence, meditation, interpretation and fermentation of the initially recorded impressions. Let us refer to some data of his origins and the social-political and cultural environment in which he grew up.

The Kurds have a very long history over the centuries, and a rich cultural heritage. They have managed to maintain their traditions and customs regardless of the severe blows they have gone through in their historical continuation and development. They were forced to Islam over a period from the 7th to the 10th century A.D. thus a lot of important artistic monuments were destroyed as they were considered paganistic symbols. Later on, a kind of vegetal and geometric decoration flourished, as well as miniature drawing, influenced by Eastern and Indian art. In the modern times, apart from the Kurdish folk art which can be seen in traditionally weaved carpets, felt and woollen knitted fabric, the art of painting and its artists appear quite late, in the second quarter of the 20th century. At first they were self-taught, or graduates of the Academies of Education, or -later on- of the School of Arts in Bagdad, Damascus, Teheran, and Istanbul, as well as the ex- USSR and various European countries. They gradually form a well-structured profile of their homeland. The establishment of two Higher Educational Schools of Arts and eight Technological Institutes in the free area of Kurdistan has contributed to the development of art. However, thousands of Kurds live scattered in Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq, in a status of dependency and occupation, under prohibition and restriction of their political rights. They show all the problems and weaknesses of the people who have not managed to create their own state.

Memory is a place of permanent exile for something that is gone and lost forever. Serhad has to live away from his country, his family and friends and he does not even have the possibility to visit them for at least two decades now. This is a double exile. An exile from his hometown and an exile in the stative space of memory. He seems trapped in a distant point of his past. In this sui generis shut core of a memory, which is not renewable, Serhad has been cut off from facts and experiences that took place in his country. However this core of memory has developed internally in an expansive manner and multiplied his initial experiences. This way, Serhad has established his personal identity which is both political and existential. His beliefs have been tested and practically applied to a both social and personal level; they will form a straight, honest and fighting character with a powerful critical competence as well as stable and independent thought and views.

His art, accordant to his attitude towards life, is fed by it in a common direction and it takes on qualitative characteristics and ideological contents. His painting as well as his engraving become the tool for his artistic expression, his redemption and his communication but they also become the weapon for a political and social intervention, by recording, bringing up and praising the struggles of the Kurds and their way of living or by denouncing the repression of the government forces against the Kurds.

Serhad is a painter and an engraver who acquired the relevant degrees in the School of Visual and Applied Arts in the Faculty of Fine Arts of AUTH. We have decided to present his engraving not for reasons of evaluation but because most of the aspects of his artistic identity are imprinted in it. His engraving is rich in both quantity and quality, it is seeking for expression and renewal, it has got thematic variety and experimental procedure as far as the use of various materials and techniques are concerned. We can’t forget though, that there are some advantages that make engraving a significant and effective form of visual art. The engraver should definitely consider them seriously. The production of a work in several copies, even when limited, offers the opportunity to more people of modest financial capacity to acquire engravings; this way a better distribution of works is achieved. Engravings can be easily transferred. Thus they can be promoted in a more effective way, multiple exhibitions with the same projects can be organised even perhaps simultaneously, and finally greater communication with the public can be achieved. Additionally, the artist himself preserves the molds and at least one copy of all his prints. This way he holds the evolution and the route of his work in his hands. The black and white output of engravings or even the color of monochromic austerity can successfully interpret issues with epic or elegiac character, as well as situations emotionally or ideologically intensive. We have several examples of left-wing Greek engravers who created such works in critical and uneven historical periods.

All the above reasons (and possibly others not mentioned) and those mentioned below, have motivated Serhad to give a leading role in his engraving, let alone the fact that a large part of his work is politicized and has sociopolitical orientation.

His contact with engraving starts during the first years of his studies at the School of Visual and Applied Arts of Thessaloniki in painting, 1987-1992. He attended a compulsory course in printmaking, a workshop with Professor George Milios. Engraving was a way out, a space for free expression and an escape from the constraints and suffocation of academic teaching. Since then his interest and creative engagement with engraving has remained unabated and was culminated in the years 2001-2007 when he got his degree in engraving from the School of Visual and Applied Arts.

Sherhad is a restless and free spirit; he combines the critical and investigative look of the scientist and the heightened sensibility of the artist. He strives for learning and knowledge, not easy learning, through ready-made solutions but mainly through searching and experimental research. He is attracted by the smooth flow and the unexpected of the unknown, the innovation, the new ways of expression and the different materials. He is also attracted by the organized methodological and analytical approach of them. He sets questions and then struggles to find the answers. He seeks movement, renewal, the overcoming of entrenched patterns, the surprise, the freshness of the original proposal. Therefore, his way of thinking, his ideas, his artistic work, his own life cannot be manipulated, subordinate or serve interests or expediencies. He is ready to disagree at any time, come into conflict or revise by rejecting former opinions and theses when he knows that they are wrong and they do not serve their goal.

Engraving is the common place where art meets manual labor. Strength, particularity and expressive variety of different materials and techniques meet imagination and creative ability of the artist. The engravings conceal their secrets until the end, by maintaining a high degree of liquidity and mystery due to their being highly dependent on the materials, and they reveal their face only after the printing. It is precisely this process that attracts Serhad to engraving. The mental alertness during the whole procedure of creation, the suspense before printing, the surprise and joy afterwards, when the result is the desirable one, the relief and satisfaction from the successful handling of the materials and their performance.

Serhad is stuck to his memories and his native country, Kurdistan. Maybe, as he says, he is a tree whose roots are in Kurdistan, the trunk and branches in Europe and the fruits -the products- are his works of art. However, the springs, the ground, where he gets the juices, and the themes derive, almost exclusively, from Kurdistan. His life in Greece has left the core of his origins intact. The experiences in the new country are not integral and are not incorporated to the original core, they neither transmute, nor supplement, or create a new profile with enriched elements or the binary articulation of a dual homeland, but are ostracised and scattered. The lifestyle of the Greek reality, and its historical and physical space do not affect his work, especially engraving. The influences and effects of the Modern Greek and Western European art are limited in the way of writing, still, the look as well as the general approval remain Kurdish.

His engraving is representational. In the creations of the recent years it advances in abstract formalities which maintain some basic stylized forms. However it depicts archetypal situations and human types (peasants, servants, an old woman, mother and child, family) rather than describes them. Abstract concepts (thought, humility, reliance, victory, cry, whine) precede and are depicted as symbols in their general features in a concise and rough manner. The themes develop realistically, with strong and distinct symbols which derive mainly from the Kurdish tradition. Some of them, along with the stylistic elements, come back again and again, i.e. the sun in ancient Zoroastrianism symbolizes good and virtue against darkness and evil, the cranes, the birds-messengers of the coming of spring season. The trees, stand for life and pride, but they are also the symbols of captivating cranes in their branches. The hand, the wire, human figures in the form of an irregular grid can be seen as symbols of struggle, victory, bondage and imprisonment, oppression and suffering. Some issues, such as human figures and landscapes, are constantly found in his work. They cross horizontally all the periods of his artistic creation.

As far as themes, morphology and style are concerned, one can distinguish three main periods separated from each other. They appear in successive periods of time, in full correspondence with the facts, the memories, the life experience, studies, artistic influences, creative development and maturity.

The first period, regarding the years 1988-1966, is human-centered with obvious social and fighting content, with rough formalities, epic and dramatic character. These are the first years of his settlement in Greece, when his memories from Kurdistan are still fresh. The social struggles in his homeland are very similar to former periods of the contemporary Greek history, periods such as the German occupation, civil war, post-civil war period, dictatorship, the first years of the new regime, the spirit and climate of this era. This spirit was expressed in an exceptional way by engravers such as Tassos, Farsakidis, Semertzidis, Katraki, Sikeliotis, etc. Sherhad’s engraving moves on a similar level, has much in common with the Greek engravers mentioned above, however it bears the stamp of the Kurdish identity and tradition. The embossing with the woodcut and linoleum are the main means of expression he uses in this first period. From 1987 to 1992, he studies painting at the the School of Visual and Applied Arts, AUTH.

The second period includes approaches of landscape painting, mainly rural, sometimes it depicts scenes from the lives of rural people. These scenes often have strong symbolization, they are rendered in a very delicate manner, their character is lyrical and nostalgic. This period refers to the years 1997-2000. As years go by, the first “fresh” memories begin to fade. The gestural expression, the intensity, the fiery passion, the directness of emotions are replaced by a corrosive and silent recollection, filtered through gradual shades of grief and nostalgia. The fighting and social content recedes. Along with it, the influence by Greek engravers who work on similar themes dwindles; instead, there’s a whisper, the praising of landscapes of his homeland, of the folk tradition, of the life of rural people. New techniques appear, their expressive, dynamic potentiality is studied, processed and develop in order to depict the subtle shades of emotions. Serhad makes the most of the penetrating expression and the tonal gradation of etching and engraving on Plexiglas, by using knitted, thick weaving which resembles embroidery. This way he achieves highly sensuous results.

Finally, the last and most recent period coincides with his studies in engraving during the years 2001 – 2007, at the School of Visual and Applied Arts of AUTH. During this period he experiments and tends to an aniconic expression. However there are some shaped forms- keys which signify specific situations and concepts. His work is distinguished by an abstract lyricism, emphasis on plasticity, transparency, brightness absence of dramatization and dreamy formalities. The effect of Xenis Sahinis, his university tutor, is obvious in these recent works of art. Nevertheless, his personal touch remains, it is not degraded, and it is readable.

Serhad’s bold temperament, his mood and his intention to convert the oppression and suffering of refugees into powerful art and escape from the refugees’ miserable reality at the same time, lead Serhad to a constant experimentation, to an effort to enrich and renew his expressive means by using new and different materials and techniques, which impress and fascinate him and leave a wide field for exploration. So he does not hesitate to use various techniques, such as collagraphy, mixed techniques, painting on printed engraving or collage in engravings. Quite often he combines different materials and techniques for the same project in order to achieve better results, depending, each time, on the selected topic and the potentiality of materials.

The three different periods are not restricted areas or complete circles which have been depleted and are over. They constitute an evolution, they interfere each other mutually, strongly, they make one body. They indicate that in the future they will often come back -the first period maybe less often- refreshed, through different experimental procedures, constructing the backbone of Serhad’s engraving. What comes next belongs exclusively to the artist himself.

Vasilis Ioannidis

Painter, writer

June-July 2008

The text above by V. Ioannidis was published in the 12th issue of the magazine ENEKEN- Culture Review in the winter of 2008.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Dystopia, 2015, charcoal and soft pastel, 70x100 cm

Dystopia, 2015, charcoal and soft pastel, 70x100 cm

Dystopia, 2015, acrylic, 80x100 cm

Dystopia, 2015, acrylic, 80x100 cm

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Group exhibition at the Gallery of the Society for Macedonian Studies

Annual Report of the Association of Visual Artists

Northern Greece in the Gallery of the Society for Macedonian Studies

Opening Monday, November 30, 2015

Duration of the exhibition: 11.30.2015 until 12.23.2015

Dystopia, 2015, acrylic, 100x80 cm.

Dystopia, 2015, acrylic, 100x80 cm.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Landscapes, 2013, acrylic, 50X70 cm

Landscape, 2013, acrylic, 50X70 cm

Landscape, 2013, acrylic, 50X70 cm

Landscape, 2013, acrylic, 50X70 cm

Landscape, 2013, acrylic, 50X70 cm

Landscape, 2013, acrylic, 50X70 cm

«30 YEARS SKETVE (1983-2013)" Art Exhibition of Visual Artists Association of Northern Greece.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Bottom of the sea 2, 2003, collagraph, 35x49 cm

Bottom of the sea 2, 2003, collagraph, 35x49 cm

Bottom of the sea 1, 2003, collagraph, 35x49 cm

Bottom of the sea 1, 2003, collagraph, 35x49 cm

Woman in village that will be destroyed, 1994, woodcut, 36x17, 5 cm

Woman in village that will be destroyed, 1994, woodcut, 36x17, 5 cm

Pêşmerge, 1989, Etching 14,5 x14,5 cm

Pêşmerge, 1989, Etching 14,5 x14,5 cm

My grandmother, 1989, linoleum, 22x14 cm

My grandmother, 1989, linoleum, 22x14 cm

Political art beyond the picturesque

Harsh censorship in the arts after 9/11 was confronted with a sweeping wave of political expression everywhere in the US, from galleries and talk shows to films and blogs, especially targeting George Bush. Almost immediately this politicization spread to the whole art-world, notably the international exhibitions and fairs, where the vocabulary and ideas associated with “identity” and “multiculturalism” that had been developed in the ‘80s, were further elaborated. At its best, this politicization after 2001 concerned neither “voices yet unheard”, nor “particularities threatened with extinction”. It challenged the generalized biopolitics of “antiterrorism” and “security”, a condition of permanent emergency, where everyone is under surveillance, potentially criminal, indeed guilty until proved innocent.

The political dimension of Serhad Bapir’s engravings cannot be measured against the standards of “ethnic” and “world” art, nor are they comments against the security state made from the comfortable distance of a mass-democratic couch. They needn’t claim local authenticity or legitimization. Serhad’s motives are clear, as the works bear his stamp of personal commitment from the start. His image-making has always been political. A political refugee in Greece, he turned his stress into strength, studying painting and then engraving next to brilliant teachers like Manolis Yannadakis and his main mentor Xenis Sachinis. Engraving suits him well, for its high aesthetic and conceptual contrasts, for its reproducibility, its emphatic respect for the creative process itself, and finally for its history in emblems and illustration. Engraving enables him to serve his own lyrical idiom, while not hiding behind an irrelevant and subjectivist neutrality. He seems to be making icons out of the concept of one’s “homeland”, which for him is a bloodstained piece of a broader universe ruled by pain, deprivation and absence. Works like
 “Kurdistan, Chechnya, Tibet” (2003), or “Refugees in the Mediterranean” (2001) and “Self-Determination” (2006) speak of the remains of hope and sorrow in the paranoia of constant war, a low-level conflict which covers all spheres of control across the planet.

Some works appear mercilessly specific:
 “Woman in a Village that is About to be Destroyed” and “100 Years of Kurdish Journalism”provide arguments to a struggle that is ongoing on the eastern front, yet is also being fought right next to us – Arivan Abdullah Osman, an Iraqi Kurd, was badly beaten up by Greek coast guards and has been in a coma for weeks now [Arivan passed away less than four months later, on July 27th 2009]; Turks and Kurds are still caught up in the claws of the 2004 Greco-Turkish bilateral refoulement agreement for returning immigrants.

With the straightforwardness of a political poster, works such as
“Accordance” (2005) and “The Cry” (2005) choose to offer some allegorical background to the collective vision of a fairer life.“Survival” , “Return” and “Then” , on the other hand, transform Serhad’s own enduring nostalgia into memory, a memory that cherishes moments of beauty, and shelters them from hopelessness and grief.

Lia Yoka
Art Historian
From the newspaper
 "Macedonia Sunday" 
May 24, 2009. For the report prints in Vafopoulio Cultural Center of the City of Thessaloniki (Greece).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Kurdistan, 1990, Engraving on linoleum, 18x16 cm

Tears, 2007, collagraph, 32x32 cm.

Captivity, 2005, Engraving on plexiglas and linoleum, 102x82 cm.

When memory shouts....

The contact of the engraver and painter Serhad with the engrave art was not the usual one, as it is for the western artists. The first time the creator dealt with this demanding art was not because of visual speculation and meditation about beauty, with luxurious handmade papers and porcelain oxidization-basins. The first time that Serhad engraved and printed was – as he himself confesses – because he had to. Wanted from the Turkish junta he had to forge an identity, engraving for this purpose on a piece of plastic used for floor-covering an embossed seal. He used this seal to stamp the photo having thus a forge identity. Using this “identity” he managed to go through the police round-up, he left his home-country Kurdistan and came to Greece as a political refugee.

What Serhad doesn’t confess – but can easily be realized by sensitive perceivers from his creations – is that the artist went on and is still engraving due to his needs. Not to survive but to save his identity, his memory, the consciousness of struggles, the dreams and the wishes of his people. To save all the elements that identifies and justifies the artist with his creations.

Serhad belongs to those people who from a very early age had to choose among an easy and humiliated life and the Odyssey of freedom. Having no doubts he choosed the second path knowing thus that he choose the hardness of being a refugee, the pain of the loneliness, the loss of the home country and the beloved persons and so many others which although they seem insignificant and worthless speaking of them, they are the balm of the human life. It is certain that when the artist began his Odyssey he had no idea that the day of the return would approve so far away, maybe because hope functions as an ark through which the human saves himself from the hard reality.

It has been twenty-five years since the day the artist began his journey. Twenty-five years of endless waiting, with the “nostimon imar”* torturing his soul, not seeing the home – chimney away in the horizon, watching the return day to his home country going further and further away and having the art as the only balsam making less the pain of waiting .

We consider indispensable this short biographical report that would be useless to other cases but we believe that the place where Serhad comes from is one of the essential keys for the interpretation and deciphering of his work. We believe that the art and furthermore the engraving art is not just what Serhad enjoys but also the place where he can express himself, his as a human – being searching and a refugee place as well. The artist feeds himself through what he creates keeping thus alive the dream of freedom, which in turn inspires him what to create next. That’s why he constantly goes back to the “river” of memories to draw pictures showing the reality and proving in such a way his identity.

This vital need turns every single creation into a significant monument that fights against forgetfulness, as a libation to collective memory, as a worth full alphabet to those who don’t know how to read but wish to be taught history, so that his entire artwork is not the recording of a personal story but turns to be a visual epopee narrating the existence of his people in time.

For this reason, and beyond any deviations in the field of the abstract art, Serhad’s art remains vivid with a special love of symbolism. His use of symbols, which are not borrowed but originate and express his own experience in life, are used with stability and insistence and at the same time with a sense of awareness protecting from exaggeration and saturation. Symbols always have a conscious presence in his art. Often they appear where you don’t expect to see them, usually after a second more careful look. Certainly it would not be an exaggeration to say that the language of his symbols envelopes like delicate silver all of his work, allowing the coherence and the creative dialogue between his works. Thus, although the artist chooses the symbols each time due to his expressing needs he always manages-exploiting their advantage to act one-way to transform them into a vehicle and a transmit of concrete messages without loosing the main care of the creator, that is the way an idea was born.

It should be emphasized that even the choice of engraving itself as a means of expression, a conscious action rather than a unconscious one, comes to serve exactly this purpose since the artist finds in engraving the perfect way to express his ideas. It is worth mentioning that for Serhad engraving is not just an extension of the rest of his artistic work, as it’s usually the case in the work of many artists, but the corner-stone of his creation even though the artist also paints. The engraver who, as it has already been emphasized, has consciously chosen to be away from the enigmatic and sibylline ways of modern art and has definitely denied “the lure” of multiple interpretation managing to turn his work into a messenger of symbols, that can be interpreted in a very specific and unique way, couldn’t find better means of expressing his ideas and intentions than by engraving. In his hands, even the way of printing turns from a “compulsory” commitment into a liberating action, since every copy produced multiplies the power of its manifesto. One symbolic motive repeated often in Serhad’s work is “fingerprints”. This motive appears on bushes and leaves, on or behind country and humans and in the deep dark sea water. Although his symbolism is eloquent, it must be clarified. The fingerprint has a double meaning and the way it is used reveals the fact that even for the artist himself it represents a field of dilemma. Some times he uses fingerprints in the background to support the synthesis and some other time he uses it in the foreground darkening with its threatening shadow the whole print. Other times, the fingerprint is so obvious and insistent that someone hardly sees the other elements of the synthesis.

The fingerprint, functions either as an insistent and concrete memorandum or as a stable and endless accusation against the tyranny of power. The element that in substance composes the authentic proof of the human uniqueness is used as an underground river fighting against anonymity. On the other hand its use as an under ground river reminds us how a man or peoples can be persecuted and be excluded because of their significant virtues. The tragedy of this dilemma seems to be the permanent torment of the artist. It is crucial to emphasize that in every case the fingerprint is presented interminable as visual motif, implying thus mapping that has been yet completed, being unable to distinguish its limits although we know they exist.

There are also motifs of which the skillful use from the artist turns them into universal symbols. For example the motif of the bird crane which is one of the most used symbols in Serhad’s work. To decipher the symbols we turned to the creator himself who initiated us into the symbolic explaining that in his home country people believe that the bird crane “brings” the spring. The engraver is charmed by the sensitive and kind crane’s shape that allowed him to investigate concepts that are connected in cohesion to the nature and the habits of the bird for example the concept of migration, of returning, of ephemeral, of hope as well as concepts that in cohesion are the antipode such as captivity, insistence, the struggle to survive, resistance. The crane’s motive is wed in various ways in synthesis. Some times a flight of cranes accompanies humans in their painful migration. Even if they follow the exact opposite course, they seem to crown protectively the peoples’ course wanting thus to memorize the variability of the human situations. They are omen reminding us that what happens today is not eternal. It is a promise that the circle-going of the seasons will inevitably bring the returning which the artist considers as deterministic. Some other times crane are intentionally presented in an unspecified place which is usually charged oppressively and from other symbols- illuminated spiral suns or impressive complex of stairs going up to the sky. They are presented as brilliant figures in a dark plane or as dark figures depicted in an expressionistic way in a brilliant sky blue. Some times they are high up in the sky and some other time they fly down near the earth rather than the sky. In the second case the thickness of the line and the large number of engraving imply an oppressive atmosphere which is emphasized even more from the adhesion to the plane level.

Of great interest are the syntheses in which the form of the crane is interwoven with the motive of a tree, another significant element of the personal myth and the idiomatic language of Serhad. When this happens, the tree-which in the symbolic language of the artist is connected with the idea “of the homeland” and the ancient “tree of panspermia” whose seeds are the beginning of all beings and of all peoples-is transformed into a terrifying goal which captures the cranes which are struggling in vain to escape. The skillfulness with which the artist handles the moving towards different directions figures tightens the dramatization of the synthesis and the culmination of feelings of agony sharpens. The viewer has the sense of listening to the flapping off birds and therefore the artist manages to speak in the most effective way for the people. We recognize that what is happening to the cranes-and which is not different from what is happening to humans- the injustice, the captivity, the pain, the barbaric suppression, the deprivation of freedom is not just an action against the human- law but also against the law of nature.

It is worth paying attention to the case of the work entitled “Survival” in which for another time cranes are appropriate to human-features. This work is a top-moment of the identification of the human-fate and the fate of all creatures, the fate of nature and the fate of the world. The birds are falling from mania against the roots of the tree claiming with passion for survival. Every element of the synthesis, the bright figures of cranes, the tree bowing during the attack of the birds, the net of the roots being eroded, speak for the defense of the right of being, so that the work gives meaning, the content of which is in first place. It is a certain fact that in Serhad’s artistic creation we will seldom find works going away from the conscious subjugation of the figure, of the material and of the technique in the content. Even the landscape in Serhad’s occasion is not just a simple representation of a part of the reality, not even an image of a beloved part of his homeland. The landscape reflects his spiritual situation, it reflects his existential agony in a fluent way and mainly it carries the strength of his testimony. The mythical Mount Ararat, the Lake Wan, the Walls of Amed, the Inn of Eleman, inspired and strong work, they remain extracts of a natural reality, yet they narrate stories taken from the moonlight of a myth. A myth springing right out of the artist’s heart, intertwining the mystery and the eternity of the pictorial narrating with hints and whispers of his personal symbolism.

The image of a market town for instance is something much more than a simple approach of an urban landscape-work. The urban landscape which at first sight reveals the poetic mood of the creator, steeped as it is in the patina of recollection and nostalgia, at second sight turns into a holy symbol and cryptic message. Behind the golden light of the sunrise and the disarming uniformity of a market town situated indolent in the sun, the careful viewer can distinguish the intense directing glance of the creator who uses superficially stereotyped elements, in order to reveal thought and anxiety than cannot be characterized as stereotyped. The essential “reading” transforms the bathed in light idyllic landscape into obsessive questions. We wonder what is hidden behind the hermetically closed windows and doors. What those voiceless masses are hiding, being so static and remote, so stripped of life. What is hidden behind the undisturbed calmness and the mystic silence?. Those are questions which cannot be easily answered. Maybe because the houses are waiting patiently for so long for their story-telling do not acquiesce in the revelation of their secret and imitating the humans who dwell in them, they prefer to protect themselves. The mystery of the sealed and impenetrable is illuminated somehow if we try to decipher the enigma, through the reshaped from the imaginary to the living experience of the artist but without having it illustrated. Probably, because the hermetically closed windows remain inaccessible and prohibitive for the creator himself. In the unity of the landscape there is engraving that shows that the artist seems to be charmed the immensity and the horizon and engraving in which the artist abandons the detailed description and adopts more abstract ways.

In the first case the background is shaped out in shadows and bright surfaces while in the second unshaped figures, colorful lines and vivid backgrounds colors join in the pictorial play effectively constructing the whole synthesis. Of course the idea which connects the total of Serhad’s pictorial creation is obvious in both engraving cases since symbolism is not missing-even if apparently it climbs down until the readable and the easy to understand flags. However we must emphasize that the work which is placed among the second occasion is distinguished mainly due to the sense of playing and the synthesis gives us a slight note of euphoria which the artist does not usually do. Spirals and concentric circles, lines, sensitive colors and intense interest for the searching of the materials and the output of their structure make Serhad’s work outstanding while the litotes of the means shows the politeness and the elegance of a .

One of the most basic elements in Serhad’s art is the human figure and that couldn’t have been otherwise. His anthropocentric work ends in a strong humanist’s declaration. His human figure shows in the best way his intention to speak to the human, who is revealed to be either single or as an organic element of a few or usually crowded and unbreakable tight group.

When the human figure is single, it is presented either as a dark face, tormented, wrapped and well-hidden behind a tight scarf encircled in synthesis leading it to choke. In both cases they are presented as exhausted or furious but never as subjugated or defeated. They are Dorian figures which remain silent but their silence is more buzzing than a stream of words. They usually occupy the whole synthesis and they are mainly women or children, weak persons hesitating to reveal their characteristics. Since the artist knows their needs, he offers them the shelter of being anonymous protectively and tenderly. However, sometimes when tenderness pre-dominates the contract of being anonymous is suspended. Then figures of rare politeness, nobility eroding the time-net, rise on to the surface. They are totally alive and charming. They exude the scent of the land and they look at us with the eyes of the human we have known for so many years, friendly and warm but at the same time they search and wonder about our intentions. Their politeness does not allow them to demand and thus respect and honor is offered to them generously to make them significant and valuable. In that case when the human figures are presented as groups what characterizes the synthesis is the same direction. The humans always step towards the same direction, which is from the left to the right. They step all over the synthesis and often part of the last figure is left behind giving thus the impression of coherence. The humans’ route sometime has a specific destination, some other time a ship or a stair going up to the sky, sometime the humans look as if they have lost their way, being abandoned in the middle of nowhere. The humans’ route is often accompanied by cranes, while in synthesis the fingertip has embodied elements whish are the basic expressive element of Serhad’s symbolism. In the case when the figures are organized into groups, you can distinguish their peculiar schema. The realistic reference flags, the figures turn into bizarre images, small rings of smoke longing to be dematerialized.

It is worth saying that in Serhad’s work the reading of the inner impulse is disciplined for the benefit of the epic style of an art which confesses its commitment, for example in that artwork “A woman in the village which is going to be destroyed”. The tragedy of the human who knows the future-events-not in a metaphysics way but in a way that the experience through so many years has taught him- is expressed in the dark shadow of the woman in the foreground. The woman is presented as a guard, a guard who although she is aware of the tragic evolution does not surrender. The title of this art-work which reminds us an oracle confirms the foreboding of the viewer. It resembles an inscription on a glorifying tomb. The way the synthesis is organized with the emphasis on the hierarchy of the female figure, not only as far as the size is concerned but also her position in the foreground, declares that behind the imminent defeat the triumph is shown. The triumph of human who still resists despite the consciousness of his defeat.

In the antipode of the previous choice art-work which should not be ignored since in their case the intention is unable to master the emotion. It is the case of art-work in which peoples’ routes end in ships- one of the most often-used symbols in Serhad’s art. In these art-pieces the artist is abandoned to his emotions. Every effort to govern despair-which the artist seems to consider a humiliating emotion, is abandoned and desperation is culminated. It is obvious that these art-works are born when the memory shouts. They remind us in the most shocking way the verse of the poet. “Try to change the thought of the refugee, the thought of a prisoner, the thought of a man who ended up, try to change it, you can’t” They confirm the thought that everyone who was once a refugee is marked with the refugee load for his whole life. In a visual level this uncontrollable explosion of the affect is expressed through real explosion. Flames going up into the sky into a real delirium occupy most of the place of the synthesis reminding the inextinguishable holy fire of Zoroastrianism, while playing the black and white with the intense schematization refer to the eternal struggle of the domination between light and dark.

A synthesis which consists of two or tree figures belongs to the unity with the human figures. They are families or mothers carrying their children in their arms. They follow an unspecified route. Often the emotional relationship between the members of a group is indicated more by the title of the art-work rather than the visual formulation since the person are treated as units. Every person lives his own drama, encircled by his own personal tragedy, the only and unique cohesive link between the members of these groups is nothing else their common tragically fortune. Thus for example in the art-work entitled “Family” the figures hold each other’s hands tightly but their movement is rather a movement of alienating and not of coiling whereas in the art-work “Mother with Child” the mother is wrapped in dark but the child is definitely turned towards light.

Due to the symbols, we would like to end the presentation of Serhad’s engraving creations with two art-works which do not belong to any of the previous units as a theme: “The Tower of Silence” and “The Tomb of Zaratoustra. These are unique art-pieces which are on top-scale of the pyramid of symbols that the artist uses. Although through these art-pieces the engraver continues his relation to the symbols it is obvious that the prime reason which led to the creation of these art-pieces are different, rather instinctive and subconscious than rational and coming out of experience. In the case of these art-pieces the creator is released from his promise of commitment and is abandoned in the metaphysic dimension of the things managing in this way to touch the composure of eternity. Using these two unique monuments the artist takes the chance to speak about the eternal question of life and death pulling out in the surface symbols lost back in time when Zoroastrianism one of the brightest religions of the ancient world, urged people to good deeds because that way could Ahoura Masda, the God of Good and Prince of light win the struggle of diarchy against Ariman the Prince of evil and dark.

The “Tower of Silence” an art-piece referring to the old customs of Masdaism which imposed the withdrawal of the dead from the world of the living and their placing in isolated towers on top of the hills where they were left to corruption-is the culmination of the existential agony of the artist. Fear and awe inundate our soul while facing this dark silent mass which stands in the middle of the synthesis crashing with its expressionistic drama every sense of happiness. Everything shows that death is the prince who reigns in this tower, not a far and vague death but a death which concerns every one of us personally and threatens our existence.

In the antipode of “the Tower of Silence” stands the “the Tomb of Zaratoustra”, an art-work which declares the artist’s faith to the power of light. The elements of the synthesis, which the changing of bright and dark places are placed in such a way so that the eye of the viewer focuses at the beginning on the down side of the synthesis where a tomb stands, to make it in turn to turn with the help of two triangle endings to the upper side of the synthesis where a very bright sun shines. We realize that the sun which lights Zaratoustra’s Tomb is not just a star but Zoroastrianism’s God himself who lights the dark seeing through everything. It is the ultimate human power, the unbeaten existence, the heart of the world and the centre of knowledge, according to Avesta. Under the light of this sun the monument turns into a sign-Tomb to a sign-Symbol. The symbol of the eternal domination of light. Even if we didn’t know anything about Serhad’s life “the Tower of Silence” and “the Tomb of Zaratoustra”, with the power of truth, the power of reflecting and of symbols could reveal where the artist comes from, since in the cases of these two art-works history is the one who shouts.

«nostimon imar »: Nice day, holy day. In Homer’s poet “Nostimon imar” is the day where Odyssey after many years turns back to his homeland Ithaka.

Eleni Kartsaka

Art historian

Thessaloniki, February 2008