Edward Shahda was born in 1952, in Hama, Syria. He was interested in painting from an early age. He used to go out to the natural sites in the city of Hama where the River Asi runs through the city and into its houses, forming a breathtaking and magical subject for painting. That sight, alongside stunning landscapes, shaped his view of the beauty of nature and they were the first guides for his early and first artworks.
Later, between 1968 and 1970, he was enrolled into Suhail Alahdab Center, the only art center in the city of Hama at that time.
In 1971 he began his academic studies at the University of Fine Arts in Damascus and graduated in 1976 with highest distinction for his project that portrayed the stone quarry workers.
During that period, he was influenced by the works of realism artists like Daumier, Goya and Rembrandt to name a few, and after that, by artworks from socialist realism of Russian, German and Italian artists.
Between 1989 and 1992, he moved to the former Soviet Union for work, and there he had the chance to study artworks that were presented in Russian and European museums.
He moved forward to study the artworks of the oriental region, the Persian art, the Indian art and the Chinese art, as well as the art of miniatures and the art of the Middle Eastern Icon, and from there his aim was to merge between the Oriental miniature and the Syrian Icon in a distinctive and peculiar style.
At this current stage, he is working on developing a different technique, using Chinese rice paper by benefiting from the translucent quality that it has to offer when combined with contrasting and diverse media, thus achieving a completely new perception of the painting.
Edward Shahda By Dr. Asaad Arabi - Contemporary Art in Syria - Bremen 2019
Born 1952 in Damascus. He is one of the pillars of the Homs Group. Perhaps Shahda is the most consistent colour artist in the Syrian art scene. Occasionally, he is compared to Pierre Bonard. The richness of his memory nourishes the flow of his spiritual themes, from Assyrian icons to Palmyrian sculptures, legends, poet biographies and Islamic ornaments. Shahda is a totalitarian, pluralistic and secular artist despite the spiritual depth of his saturated colours.
In an elitist way, he communicates with contemporary and modern avant-gardists in Europe, especially with the great colour artists such as Henri Matisse, Bonard, Chagall and Kupka. From the works of these artists he draws the dynamics of the colour relations corresponding to the music, the manifold colour climate, the diversity of their components and the nature of their structures. He seeks paradisiacal hymns in which the fiery songs are extinguished in the blue of the ocean and swim in the volcano of the yellow, in the passions of the grey and the joie de vivre of the purple. Some critics say he paints dream-like worlds.
A word from Edward
Contemporary Art in Syria - Bremen 2019
"I've always been obsessed with drawing. I don't know exactly when I first felt this urge, but I do know that I had it since I was young and quiet. Why draw? ... I just don't know. The shape of the human body fascinates me, I work with it in my painting and it accompanies me in my life's work. Art is a field for delight and pain, and the painting is a white space to give form to thoughts and to create new ones. Time and space determine my painting. Colour is my greatest passion. .... It is my only means of expression, which is why I apply it with great care to the surface of the painting. My works consist of music and colour. A small spot of colour can have an enormous richness of drama and expression and create a visual tension. What always tires me are those beautiful forms that appear on the surface of the painting and refuse to harmonize with the rest of the work, so that I see only two possibilities, either the destruction of the beauty of the work or the complete destruction of the work in favour of its integrity. By placing the signature, I release the painting."