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Aleppo: Syria’s Guernica

Artwork has illustrated and immortalized the horrors of war to remind us of people’s ordeal

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

“Seeing the picture of the five-year old Syrian boy this morning, while heading to work, made me cry.” This comment by a Western woman was posted on the BBC website in reference to Omran Daqneesh, whose haunting picture has resonated widely on social media.

Video footage shows him covered in dust, staring in shock, so much shock he cannot even cry. He wipes his face and looks down at the blood, the red color a vivid reminder of the horrors caused by the Syrian regime and Russia, which are bombing Aleppo.

This is not the first picture of the ravages of war in Syria. The heartbreaking one of Aylan Kurdi went viral. The boy’s corpse was found lying face down on a Turkish beach away from his parents. He died after fleeing Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Russian missiles, regime barrel-bombs and Iraqi militias linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Art

Artwork has illustrated and immortalized the horrors of war to remind us of people’s ordeal. For example, Picasso’s painting “Guernica” immortalized the small Basque village wiped out by German shelling in 1937 during the Spanish civil war. The painting perfectly portrays this shocking incident.

Had Picasso been alive now and seen Daqneesh’s picture, would he have painted something similar to “Guernica”?

Mshari Al Thaydi

Back then, planes and weapons were ‘primitive.’ What can we say about what Russia and its allies are inflicting today on Aleppo, which is trapped in the shadow of death? Had Picasso been alive now and seen Daqneesh’s picture, would he have painted something similar to “Guernica”?

High-quality pictures, live streaming and smartphones have paved the way for hundreds of “Guernica” pictures, but have they influenced global public opinion? The picture of Daqneesh is itself a “Guernica” - no need for a painter to add his or her personal touch. However, this present-day “Guernica” has left Western art connoisseurs indifferent.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Aug.19, 2016.

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Saudi journalist Mshari Al Thaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Al Thaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists.

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