Arabella Dorman Before The Dawn: An Artist’s Journey Through Afghanistan open now and running until Saturday 15 November 2014 in La Galleria, London.
Between this exhibition, Bryan Adams’ photographs of surviving servicemen at Somerset House and Imperial War Museum’s War Story, “war art” has made a huge comeback this year, and all of it timed perfectly for the WW1 centenary and Remembrance Sunday.
The difference with Arabella Dorman’s work isn’t just that she’s a painter and diarist, but that her show doesn’t shy away from the impact of war on both sides of the war fence, so to speak. What’s even more powerful is how the majority of her paintings, both those of Afghanistan and the soldiers, could be placed in any country in that region. Is that powerful or sad? I’m not sure…
Having lived in Afghanistan for five years, Dorman’s experiences with British soldiers has been balanced on canvas with those with Afghanistani families also caught in the war engine that has ravaged a once fruitful and beautiful country.
Dorman lived with those who chose to fight, and those who had no choice.
During the press preview earlier today, both Dorman and the sponsor spoke about how this exhibition is vital for the British public to see how much real hope there is for the future of Afghanistan. Dorman said “I want my work to be seen by a wider audience to give a better understanding of Afghanistan“, alluding to the very one-sided vision given by the media. She continued “The situation is far more hopeful than what we are led to believe. There is a huge amount of intelligence, culture, hope and stability, and people are really looking towards and looking forward to the future“.
One of these people is the principal sponsor of the exhibition, Afghanistan-born, Dubai-based entrepreneur Mirwais Alizai who spoke about how grateful he was to Dorman for showing his native country as beautifully as he remembers it to be.
Alizai ended by saying the most perfect thing: “If it has inspired me, it can inspire all audiences“.
Working with two charities: Afghanaid and Walking with the Wounded on this exhibition, proves even more how this show is more than just about the art. Over the course of its short eleven day run, Before The Dawn serves as a reminder and insight into the catastrophe that wars and invasions can cause on so many fronts; armies and civilians; mental and physical.
Essentially, the artworks and curatorial purposes of and in this exhibition are symbolic of a hopeful future.
As Dorman perfectly reiterated “My work and this exhibition is just one way in which audiences can engage more deeply in what conflict is, but more importantly, in how we can all then emerge from the ashes.”
Before The Dawn: An Artist’s Journey Through Afghanistan is open now and runs until 15th November 2014 at La Galleria, Pall Mall, 30 Royal Opera Arcade, SW1Y 4UY.
Opening hours: 10.30am – 6pm weekdays (4pm Saturday)
Entrance is free to view the exhibition.
For more information about Arabella Dorman, click here.
For more information about the exhibition, click here.
There’s also an incredible amount of talks going on during the show, have a look at the image below for more details!