Monday, July 23, 2018

Dystopia, 2018, acrylic, 121x144 cm

Dystopia, 2018, acrylic, 121x144 cm

Few words about Dystopia

It is said that "the real homeland is our childhood". It is understood that this childhood as a living experience takes place in a place where the father's home, the village or the city where one grows and grows one plays the central role.

The great powerful states of the world at the altar of their interests, at the beginning of the last century, disregarding the right to self-determination of peoples, their national and religious peculiarities, shared the world with each other. So many divided peoples initially found themselves in various colonies of large states and then in the newly independent states. Unfortunately, the Kurds lacked the self-evident right to self-determination in a free and independent Kurdistan.

Some people are born in a free nation/state and some are born as children of an enslaved nation, a religious or ethnic minority. As no one can choose his parents, no one can choose whether he wants to be born in an independent, democratic and prosperous country or in a country divided into four pieces, occupied by four states, with barbed wire, minefields and with forbidden the teaching of their mother tongue, as in the case of the Kurds and Kurdistan. No one can choose who will be born but can fight for all this. This is what the Kurds do, as do many other peoples.

In this struggle, over the last four years, dozens of Kurdish cities such as Kobani, Şıngal, Sûr, Cızir, Xurmatû and thousands of villages have been razed by ISIS and by the Turkish and Iraqi states. Millions of people have been uprooted from their ancestral homes, so is the case at Efrin.

In this section of my work, I worked on this issue: Residual areas that are destroyed, borders and military outposts that monitor barbarity and on the horizon a sea of rotten ships that will lead some people to the wet tomb or an uncertain future of refuge.

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).