Ayyam Gallery Dubai is pleased to present The River That Was in the South, a solo exhibition by Sadik Kwaish Alfraji.

These are visions coming from a far, from a generation I haven’t seen and a life I haven’t lived, yet I grew up in the arms of its legacy.

It is my grandfather’s generation who lived suspended between his own Southern heaven and the toll of its existence.

There, where the fistful power of feudalism and misery exists, where the beauty of life mixed up with cruelty bred an endless vortex of dreams and nightmares.

To overcome their wasted dreams and the phantoms of agony and loss; sorrow and grief would identify their world and encompass their perception of things, becoming a feature of their existence.

And with a devotion that is a mixture of lust for life and abstemiousness, they are to create songs of sorrow and tales where happiness takes the colour of grief and where anguish is replaced with joy, where reality blends with the myth, with words of agony, love, yearnings, partings, desolation, death and the absence of justice.

A generation living in that paradise of the South, yet unable to own their life nor their fates, in spite of all the efforts and aspirations, ending up carrying their songs and stories, their dreams and fears, leaving behind the crops and reed houses to migrate. In hope of finding a better life.

The dream of migration always seems rosy.

And the paths of migration glistens like gold painting a bright horizon. It would be followed with devotion not knowing that they would end up living on the brinks of the cities.

A migration that would have lasted for three generations, burdened with the same misery and loss.

Eternal migrants standing on the verge of cities carrying the same passion.

And I stand here with the same passion – on the side of the canals in Amsterdam – viewing the paths of departure, listening to the murmur of the streams stretching down to that southern land, carrying me to that slim snaky river of Rfayaah wandering along the marshes and on its way watering the songs of love and hope, fading after a while, leaving but drought, absence and separation behind.

These works are an attempt to touch the visions of those early migrants and those of us, WE, who are still on the move, driven by our everlasting yearnings to visualize a heaven we shall forever stand on its edges.