Hamid Sulaiman addresses in the exhibition the ongoing since civil war in his native Syria, which began exactly five years ago. He does this by means of drawing and comics, with direct reference to YouTube footage, news feed Images and his own personal experiences.
Hamid Sulaiman was born in 1986 in Damascus. He grew up there and graduated from the state university for architecture and art. In 2011, he participated in the Arab Spring demonstrations and was involved in the resistance against the Assad regime. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested and tortured but luckily managed to escape, first to Germany, then to France.
Since then, Hamid Sulaiman has participated in several group exhibitions in France, Austria, Italy, Great Britain and Germany. He particularly drew attention to himself with his haunting, expressive ink drawings. The British Museum in London and several prestigious private collections have acquired his work.
Since his arrival in Europe (almost four years ago), Hamid Sulaiman has been predominantly working on a comic book. Covering 280 pages with approximately 1120 individual drawings, he tells of the lives of people in Syria, of the daily life of young people in the civil war, of the permanent threat of the Assad regime and the IS militia. He reveals what is mostly unseen behind the headlines, news photos and refugee debates: what it is like to live and die in this insane civil war, how one copes - or fails to cope - with the daily violence, what the Syrians are fleeing from, or what they endure if they stay.
Hamid Sulaiman’s drawings are a parable on the normality of the abnormal, a document of our time and the world, which also reach far beyond the local events, and not only because the events themselves do. By referring to YouTube and propaganda images and the experiences of his friends and his family, Sulaiman creates an authentic and simultaneously doubly reflective medial image of the absurdly real conditions of our present time - and thus probably a particularly truthful one.
At the centre of Hamid Sulaiman’s comic is the peace activist Yasmin. She has opened a small, illegal hospital that cares for wounded members of the opposition, civil rights activists and underground fighters. They cannot go into public hospitals because Assad’s informers would immediately give away their identity and they would be imprisoned. The injuries would therefore be followed by torture and even death.
Yasmin runs the hospital together with her friends. The contradictions, the diversity and the fragmentation of Syrian society are reflected in the staff and patients. Kurds come across Alawites, Western journalists come across Muslim preachers, wounded fighters of the Free Syrian Army come across opportunistic undercover agents from the Assad regime. They all fight for something or someone, albeit with more or less conviction. Alliances, trust and relationships constantly oscillate, and towering above all this are the images and the reality of unrelenting violence.
Although Hamid Sulaiman emphasizes that the story is fictional, it nevertheless captures what is, and not merely what could be. Hamid Sulaiman addresses the actual state of his homeland and the experiences of loved ones in his drawings. In doing so, he conveys a striking picture of the political situation and of everyday life in Syria.
Using the mediums of drawing and comics he compresses five years of civil war - the violence, the turmoil, the disasters and the everlasting principle of hope.
Galerie Crone Berlin now presents for the first time original drawings from Hamid Sulaiman’s ‘Freedom Hospital’. The are accompanied by sketches and studies that were created during the comic’s development.