January 18, 2014

Artist Turns to Digital Art to Highlight Devastation in Syria

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Freedom Graffiti, with Gustav Klimt's The Kiss

On New Year's Eve, I was at my church's Watchnight service. The service lingered a little past 12 a.m.. I forgot that there would be revellers launching fireworks, so I was surprised by the booming sounds from outside. 

It struck me as to how fortunate I was to be able to be with family and friends, and hear the celebratory sounds of fireworks, while others around the globe may have ushered in 2014 to the sound of explosive blasts, gunfire, or to sickness, poverty and disaster. Articles like this about Syrian children affected by the war break my heart and I wish there was some way we could help besides contributing funds... 

(If you're wondering why I focus on Syria quite a bit: I had a Syrian friend whose outlook contributed to a growth phase of my life. I also follow news about the Middle East, having dated a few guys from the region; I've good memories of being received warmly by the Tunisians - another people who've experienced incredible national change over the past 2 years. Having said that, I'm aware of other troubled areas, and I intend to equip myself to be able to volunteer with an organisation in the future.)

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Henri Matisse's The Dance

To cope with the destruction of his homeland - and his studio, artist Tammam Azzam switched from painting to digital art. Remixing famous pieces such as Gustav Klimt's The Kiss and Munch's Scream onto Syria's landscape, Azzam's work is a raw and startling juxtaposition of the human capacity to create as well as destroy. It also bears consideration that Syria is one of the world's oldest occupied areas, and with the uprising, many archaeological sites have been destroyed or looted. 

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Paul Gauguin's Tahitian Women on the Beach

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Francisco Goya's The 3rd of May, 1808

Azzam's work, compiled into an exhibition titled I, The Syrian, will be shown simultaneously in Beirut and London till 30 January at the Ayyam Gallery.  

Meanwhile... I don't know any solutions. Let's remember the needy in our actions and prayers, and strive to promote the peace we have. 

January 17, 2014

5 Things Friday: 5 Recollections of 2013, 5 Resolutions for 2014

Happy New Year guys! I realise it's been a whole month and a bit more since I last posted. I hope you've had a wonderful holiday season and are feeling optimistic about 2014. Anyway, my long-delayed New Year's list, just to segue into the new year:

5. 2013 ended on a hopeful note. December was a flurry of school work but I've satisfied all my undergraduate program requirements, and I've just started my 1st week of work! I think I can safely say that I'm happy with the "fit". Definitely looking forward to contributing, and learning from my colleagues.

4. 2013 was an experimental year. As I've briefly written, 2012 Q3 marked a turning point from which I had to make several important changes to my life. 2013 saw the testing and refining of those decisions, so it was definitely an interesting year, and in retrospect, a more confident me.

3. Family and friends continue to be very important to me. I'm indebted to Whatsapp for keeping my family closely connected! Cultivated close friendships that I hope to grow, and made some unexpected friends (yay for all-nighter library sessions).

2. I fell in love, and I suppose this was one relationship we were quite optimistic and adult about. Sadly, it didn't last, but I emerged with a solidified picture of the character that I hope my relationship and hypothetical partner will possess.

1. I found God / God found me. I'm learning how to trust Him and be audaciously hopeful in His promises. Pretty amazing how God takes time to answer prayers big and small - from making my Internet come to life again, helping me get the job and an amazingly conveniently-situated home. Praying big; excited to see where this journey goes.

5. A bit flip, but I really do need to learn Mandarin seriously. And how to swim. Any volunteers? I can cook you a meal after every session...

I don't know what the stuff on the board says... I only chose this for Bart.

4. To grow in faith and wisdom.

3. Finally embark on a financial plan. I've never really had much surplus cash - my childhood savings and internship salaries were geared towards university tuition fees and living costs. I also want to ease my parents' burden in providing for my siblings' education.

2. Find and devote my time to a cause I truly believe in. Seeing that I'll most likely remain in HK for the next foreseeable 3-5 years, I'd like to contribute to the community. One issue that strikes me is the wealth inequality and the lack of strong social support for the elderly... and the crying shame that is subdivided flats, also known as "coffin homes"

Rent is exorbitant here, and while I was on my search for an apartment, I was shown a place that resembled one of those coffin homes... and its rent was marginally cheaper than my current place's! (I currently live in a tiny studio, but I'm pint-sized so I don't occupy much space).  

1. Can I cop out and say that my final resolution is to keep my resolutions? 

On a more thoughtful note, I do reckon that I will continue to strive to be a better person every day. Be less impatient (although I really hate slow-moving things and inefficiency), more considerate, more alert to the needs of others, more appreciative, and open to learning new things. 

Aaaand that's it! Happy New Year once again - here's to many fantastic things to come!