Introduction

The march towards liberty begins with an ascension into Hell and culminates with acceptance of the mundane. For we are more defined by our mundane actions than our lofty ideals, or any search for glory no matter how it is conceived. To be free is to be reconciled to our limitedness even as we keep pushing our limits, and to savor our few heavenly moments even as we burn in Hell - a hell that is often of our making.
Mirror, Mirror

The Syrian Conflict, which started in 2011, has produced what world leaders and UN officials often describe as one of the worst global humanitarian disasters since the Second World War. In the face of this tragic development, words, my words in particular, have become increasingly hollow and quite deficient when it comes to helping me communicate what I think and, more importantly perhaps, how I feel about the unfolding tragedy. For this, it has become necessary for me to look elsewhere for additional means of communications, ones that can compensate both for the insufficiency of words as well as some my own shortcomings, such as the fact that I cannot draw or paint.

Enter Photoshop, and Eugène Delacroix.


Like so many activists around the world, I have long found a source of inspiration in Delacroix’s famous oeuvre, “Liberty leading the people.” But, to me, it has also seemed too reverential and celebratory, considering the bloodshed and suffering involved in popular revolutions. It definitely could not have become a symbol for the nonviolent revolution I envisioned for Syria back in 2005, when I issued my first call for civil disobedience and published  my first transitional plan.

But the tragic turn the Revolution was forced to take due to the violent crackdown unleashed by the ruling Assad regime, coupled with the apathy of the international community and unpreparedness of the opposition changed my mind. Now that violence was part of the revolutionary scene, Delacroix's work seemed more relevant, albeit not in its actual format and content. Alterations were required, radical ones even, still, the main elements that I needed to communicate my own thoughts were all there: bloodshed, sacrifice, martyrdom, mayhem, innocence , sensuality, chaos, the light and the dark, - they were all there. I just needed to highlight them or undertake some virtual excavations. Indeed, this series of "digital deconstructions" is more than a simple odyssey for me,  it is an ongoing archeological dig through the recesses of my own mind revealing the continuing impact of the tragedy on me.

The idea of deconstructing Delacroix’s work has been bustling in mind for years, but only in late 2013 did I finally muster enough energy and focus to pursue it. Several years and more than 7000 attempts later, I finally began finding ones that seem to work for me both in terms of their overall composition and the technique involved.

So here we are. I hope the works will communicate all that is left unsaid. 

Note: 

Understanding the works in this collection requires a certain familiarity with the original painting by Delacroix, especially what each portrayed character is meant to represent. Watching this video might help, so could this description on the Louvre Website.