Concern growing for Syrian artist

Concern growing for Syrian artist

Concern growing for Syrian artist

Syrian artist Youssef Abdelke stands in front of one of his works at his atelier in Damascus. The 62-year-old artist has been under arrest since July 18. REUTERS photo

Leading Syrian artist Youssef Abdelke has been taken into custody by government authorities, prompting his wife to launch an online appeal to secure his release, according to the

Abdelke was arrested on July 18, along with two colleagues, by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at a checkpoint in Tartous, a western port city.

The emailed petition, co-organized by Abdelke’s wife, Ala Yakoub, states: “[He] was keen to stay in Damascus in recent years, despite the difficulties of daily life and the dangers of surviving under a regime with an unlimited capacity for violence.”

The 62-year-old artist has condemned al-Assad’s regime and recently signed a petition initiated by Syrian artists calling for the removal of the president, according to the news website France 24. A former member of the Syrian Communist Party, Abdelke was jailed from 1978 to 1980.

Significant artist

A painter of still-lifes, Abdelke participated in the 2011 Sharjah Biennial as well as the eighth Cairo Biennial in 2001. London’s British Museum, which holds important works by the artist in its collection, expressed in a statement that it was “greatly concerned” by his detention. “[He] is one of the most significant artists of the Middle East of his generation and a great inspiration to others. It is hoped that he will soon be freed in order to be able to continue his work,” said Venetia Porter, the museum’s curator responsible for modern and contemporary art in the Middle East, according to