The eternal window in the work of Syrian artist Fateh Moudarres overlooks both his unique childhood in Hretha, the small village near Aleppo where he was born in 1922 with all his memories, and the collective memory of the land.
His creative experience is personified though his constant search of the civilized being. He established his own distinctive style by looking east, into the mythologies of the Levant. Elements in his painting 'whether sculpted Assyrian faces, or carved tombs from Palmyra' are compatible with the geography of the legends and the certitude of the Syrian millennium memories. Moudarres' successes sprung from his ability to link the past with his present, from connecting tragedies from the beginning of the civilization with current affairs of the Syrian and Arab streets in the last three decades of the 20th century.
All of this is wrapped within his own biography and tragic family circumstances. In his oeuvre there are always two worlds, being a free creative artist, and that of his ancestors struggling for thousands of years, yearning for the same freedom.
This present work represents a closed condensed wall of people, with the impression of a luminous effect, as in a church stain glass window. where small fragmented pieces of glass are arranged to form patterns or pictures of holy saints, held together by strips of lead and supported by a rigid frame. Here the small pieces are fragments of the individual story of each of these faces. This idyllic balance in the scene is finely realized in one of the artist's distinctive palette of deep reds and bright ochre. Moudarres reads analogies into religious symbols, such as the Cross, which for him is both a link between Man and God and also between Man and Man. Moudarres mistrusts the horizontal links between Man and Man, instead preferring the vertical link between Man and God, hence the columnar composition. Moreover, by creating this vertical land, which is always looking to the north, Moudarres idealizes his childhood memories in Northern Syria.
A typical feature in Moudarres' oeuvre is the unidentified faceless crowd with silenced figures, a clear reference to a powerless community stripped intentionally from its own identity. The heads are almost equal in size; and virtually expressionless, like numbers filling a space. They are reminiscent of Palmyra Levantine columns and Moudarres is suggesting and emphasizing on their capacity for survival. His positive message comes from imposing these faces so close to one another, leaning or touching one another. There is a strong sense of intimacy, of a certain mass strength erupting from within from the fullness of their community, from their closeness in their dream, from their loss and united destiny. This reflected the Arab street, and the current affairs from the loss of land and failure in freeing Palestine, to the inability of the Arab man to react, to revolt, and to change his destiny. Moudarres cleverly used his old mythological heritage to hint to his present. Metaphors have always served Arab modern artists, and protected them from unfair political treatments.
The sources of his inspiration with these figural compositions are strong ideologies such as the great loss of nationalism in the Arab world, a total loss of control, a severe lack of justice and morality, the suppression of the regimes with a paralyzed inability to express personal opinion and the transformation of the human being into a monster, hence the many visits of little monsters always appearing in his paintings. The Lebanese civil war was a turning point in his larger epicl works. He painted these large canvases like divided maps, like a board of a chess game, played over by militias. The emotional attachment of Moudaress and Beirut is not only linked to politics, but to his love of cosmopolitan Beirut which dates goes back to the 1940s when he was still a student in the American faculty in Aley. Beirut was the place where his cultural persona flourished in the 1960s, where he had approximately eight solo exhibitions in Gallery one alone, as well as other exhibitions in gallery Contact, and in gallery Contemporain. This all ceased until his return in 1991, after an absence of over ten years, with an exhibition in gallery 50 x 70.
The paintings of Moudarres are not explicit of legends, they are not there to reveal historical stories, but to capture with complete truth the continuous pulse through the rural gathering where these men, women and children are forever witnesses to the cruelty of human beings.