WATCH: A Syrian artist turned refugee is finding a new life in Victoria, after three years of fleeing war. Now, he’s back with family and starting with a clean slate. Aaron Guillen with his story.
Farid Abdulbaki can finally hang his art on the wall of his first Canadian gallery exhibit.
After three years in turmoil the Syrian refugee, who was a famous artist in his home country, is proud to call Victoria his new home.
“It’s very exciting for me,” says Abdulbaki.
“You keep asking yourself. Is this true?”
Life changed forever when the Syrian civil war began.
Moving from country to country, Abdalbaki and his family settled in Turkey while he taught post-secondary art.
But when one of his daughters became sick, he brought her to Germany for medical care.
This move left his wife, two sons, and other daughter back in Turkey.
In that moment, the odds turned against him.
He quickly found out he couldn’t return back since he was a refugee and he couldn’t bring his family over to Germany.
“You feel yourself just like a paper on the ocean surface,” says Abdulbaki.
“Just waiting for the next wave, where it will throw you.”
That’s when he met Ira Hoffecker, a Victoria artist studying in Berlin.
“I encouraged him to paint… cause that’s all he could do,” says the Victoria artist.
“He did these Nescafe drawings [made from coffee]. He didn’t have many means, but it was really good.”
For the next three years, the artist would spend his time in a refugee camp away from his loved ones, using art as an escape while his family was granted Canadian refugee status with the help of his new friend.
“I started to paint myself out of my depression,” says Abdulbaki.
“I heal myself through the colours.”
Finally, he reunited with his family back in January 2019.
“Three years, three months, and thirteen days. We still don’t believe that,” says Ghfram, his wife.
“But it’s nice to be together again. It’s been a long time.”
Now, he’s preparing an exhibit that features the paintings created while living in refugee camps.
Looking back, his life experience has taught him patience.
“They like to paint with their dad sometimes, but in the future, I hope they will do different things,” says Ghfram.
“And art life is too hard!” says Farid.
Abdulbaki’s show, Between Two Worlds, will be at the Errant Art Space in Vic West from May 24 to May 26.