EDWARD SHAHDA born in 1952 is a contemporary Syrian painter and sculptor. He began his creative journey in 1968 at the Suheil Ahdab Center in Hama before joining the Faculty Of Fine Arts in Damascus (1971-1976). He then resided at the Anatoli Klankov Atelier in Russia (1991-1992).
As early as 1980 his work had been on display at numerous prestigious international solo and group exhibitions in Syria, Russia, Lebanon, Egypt, Dubai, Turkey, USA, Canada, France, Switzerland and China. Recent exhibitions include the Beinalle exhibition in China in 2005 and 2008, as well as The Institute of The Arab World exhibition in Paris in 2008.
His work ranges from acrylic and oil paintings to collages and China ink on rice paper. It exposes an underlying tension in line thicknesses and color contrast. Surfaces of strong, lively colors often fade out and blurry outlines come together to create vaguely defined shapes with color gradations. Figurative and symbolic shapes, portraiture, and female figures are predominant. To Shahda, the human subject is the main concern in painting, and color treatment and juxtapositions are his preoccupation during the painting process. Figures are central to his painting. They define the expression
of space and frame the meaning of "place".
Unconventional in his representation of women, the artist is also known for his ability to create vibrant and emotional images from real life scenes. He bends and sometimes breaks perspective rules in favor of strong, contrasting and dynamic colors. Contrasting color with emotion, the artist often incorporates symbolism and mythology even
when he tackles contemporary themes.
“Painting has always been my biggest
concern, yet I can’t pinpoint when it started to preoccupy me. It has been a necessity since my early childhood... and has remained ever since.
Why painting? I simply do not know. But it drives me.
The representation of the human subject is my obsession. I’ve been treating it through painting and reflection throughout my lifetime. And I’m sure it will continue to be something I explore as long as I live.
Art is a playground of bliss and pain. An area of gravity and play. Across the canvas is a white space asking to be filled with one’s apprehensions, thoughts and emotions.
Place and time play an important role in the creation of my paintings. The forms that I paint do not belong to a specific time. They are outside the framework of time, yet nowhere. They are often the place itself (and define it) since there is no place without form, and no form without a place.
Color is my biggest preoccupation.... For it is my only tool for expression. I take special care to prepare the color for each painting. The visual tension issued by a specific color, by its proximity to others, tempts me... I believe that a small spot of color can carry a vaster amount of drama and expression than a whole novel.
What always exhausts me are the recklessly beautiful shapes and forms spawned on canvas, violating the harmony of the rest of the fabric. So I am faced to two choices: either eliminating them, and, therefore, losing their charm, or destroying the whole work.
At the end of the day, I wipe out the defiant color for the sake of the whole, and start anew, with Sisyphean options that end only when one of us is tired... so I sigh, and from here, release the painting.”
Edward Shahda, 4/10/2012”
1981 Solo exhibition at the Russian Cultural Center, Damascus
1983 Solo exhibition at the Damascus Military Housing Foundation
1992 Exhibition in Stavropol, Russia
1995 Personal exhibition in Ishtar Gallery, Damascus
2002 Personal exhibition at Atelier Fateh Al Moudarres, Damascus
2006 Personal exhibition at Atassi Gallery, Damascus
2011 Personal exhibition entitled “To Mahdmoud Darwich” at Tajalliyat Art Gallery 2013 Personal exhibition at Art on 56th Gallery, Beirut Lebanon
1984 Exhibition with Assem Al Basha, George Maher, Ghassan Nana at Al Shaeb Gallery, Damascus
1992 Exhibition with 3 Russian artists in Stavropol, Russia
1996 Personal exhibition with the sculptor Zaki Salam at Al Shaeb Gallery in Homes
1996 Exhibition with Karam Maatouk and Ghassan Nana in Al-Khanji Gallery in Aleppo, Syria
1998 Co-exhibition entitled “Life’s Theater” in the French Cultural Center, Damascus
2000 Monterosa Forum in collaboration with Lebanese artists
2001 The Women and War exhibition at the Red Cross, Damascus
2001 Pinnelli, Alexandria
2003 ‘Europe Art’ exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland
2004 ‘The Little Painting’ exhibition, Souad Issawi Gallery, Jordan
2004 Co-exhibition in ‘Dar Culture and Art’ Gallery, Drousha
2005 Second International Biennale Beijing exhibition, China
2005 4 artists exhibition in Istanbul, Turkey
2005 ‘Little Painting’ exhibition, Canada
2006-7 Project Tal Al Hijara (Artists’ street)
2008 Third International Biennale Beijing exhibition, China
2008 5 Syrian artists exhibition in Fort Hamilton Gallery, New York
2008 Camel Arts Gallery opening exhibition
2008 ‘Damascis seen by Paris’ exhibition, Institute of Arab World, Paris
2009 Ghayath Al Akhrass tribute exhibition
2009 Dubai Arts exhibition
2009 ‘Damascus seen by Paris’ exhibition, National Museum, Damascus
2012 Beirut Art Fair, Art on 56th Gallery, Beirut Lebanon
2012 Beirut Art Fair, Art on 56th Gallery, Beirut Lebanon
2013 Summer Collective Exhibition, Art on 56th Gallery, Beirut Lebanon
2013 Contemporary Istanbul, Art on 56th Gallery, Istanbul Turkey
Participated in the state’s inner and outer exhibitions since 1975.
Co-designed and co-executed the Dideo and Aeneas . Painted two murals for the Faculty of Political Science, Damascus (1987).
Executed the interior design and pavement of The Damascus Opera House. International Biennale Beijing acquired two Shahda paintings as chosen by the organizing committee 2005-2008-2012.
‘Memory revival’ exhibitions within the Damascus capital of Arabic Culture 2008 festivities.
Mural designs for the Syrian Martyrs Monument in Suwayda with a 130-m2 area executed with Mosaic in 2010 with the participation of both Ghassan Nana and Nabil Al Seman.