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Master of Arts


Visual Arts


Mahon, Patrick


As a refugee from the ongoing Syrian war, the tragedy of that war is my subject. This thesis addresses the tragedy of the war, and specifically the impact on the Syrian people. Alongside an analysis of my paintings and my artistic method, the calamity that Syrians experience is discussed, while I also attempt to explore the depths of the human soul to express the enormous traumas that are suffered in various encounters with war. This analysis and its manifestations is two sided: the role of facial expressions reflecting the inner turmoil of the individual, and the role of nature in intensifying war’s impact. The thesis is divided into three linked sections: the Extended Artist’s Statement, which reviews my background, experience, philosophy of painting and a general analysis of my painting style, including regarding artists of interest to me. The Studio Practice Documentation, the second section, discusses the meaning of my paintings and the four series that make up my thesis, including representative figures of my artwork. Finally, the Constructed Interview about the Syrian Artist, Marwan Kassab-Bachi comprises the third section, the Writing Project.

Summary for Lay Audience

I have attempted to be very clear throughout this thesis that the war in Syria has defined my view of the world, my role in it, and who I am as an artist. This thesis chronicles my journey as a man, a survivor of the Syrian war, and as an artist. The extended artist statement begins with the war in Syria and my departure from my homeland. The experiences of my family finding our way to Canada is described, as is the impact on my work. War, it’s toll on everyone and the role that hope plays is presented. Faces as they represent the distortions that tragedy creates are analyzed in this section. War and the role that nature plays in it is also discussed. War’s effect on the human psyche and body is further discussed. Finally, war’s impact on art is investigated. In the studio practice documentatio includes an explanation and detailed process of my various series: “Aching Heads”, “War Portraits Rooted in Nature”, “The Thinkers”, “The Roads of Death”. The third and final part is the research interview regarding the works of Marwan Kassab-Bachi, executed through questions and answers.

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