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  • Writer's pictureThomas Faires

Child Lost to War

Updated: Dec 14, 2018


A horrific image spread across the news in September 2015. It was one of Alan Kurdi, drowned in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. He was a four year old Syrian boy who, along with his family, was fleeing a country at war. The image of his lifeless body on the beach shocked the world, and particularly Canada when we learned our country was the family’s destination. Everyone was hurt and wanted action to prevent future tragedies.

Alas, they continue to this day.

It made me think about another war many years ago, and tragedy that destroyed many lives, and about an artist who wanted to say something about the horror of war. I am talking about Picasso and his masterpiece “Guernica”.

Sometimes an artist can only express something they feel... visually, and sometimes this expression becomes more powerful than the written word, and when seen by millions of people, it is given a life of its own, as a narrative within history. The narrative must take on a commentary to bring thoughts and impressions to the surface. Through the brush, words become images, and the images become alive.

Picasso has always been a source of inspiration for me. I tried to use that inspiration to create a new narrative, in a new painting by researching many stories and allegories. I think I eventually found something, hopefully highlighting a truth. I chose Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

The painting is no Guernica but I tried to find a truth that is part of the tragedy. The electric light represents the modern world. We are the prisoners seeing our only existence as represented by the shadows on the wall. The light casting the shadow is reflected off the silver outline of Alan’s body on the right. It represents the horrors of our modern world, horrors to which we all plead ignorance and will not turn our heads to see. The dangling cell phones and twisted television are the chains tying us to our imprisonment, our ignorance, but they do not hold us in this place. We are free to seek the truth. We even see it sometimes through our technology, but we choose to ignore it.

Allegory of the Cave (For Alan)

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