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Fusion of two words, “Exile” and “EXIT”, the title of Thomas Israel’s third exhibition at the Gallery Charlot refers to the urgency of getting out of a country and to the consequences of these inevitable departures.

Son and grandson of refugees, Thomas Israel tackles the problem of the forced exile of thousands of Syrians. On this occasion, he created an Indian ink mural fresco on the wall of the Gallery, an allegorical passage that leads us on the footsteps of Syrian exodus. Each sign, tiny but unique, represents a life on hold.

With an attempt to refocus on humanity in a contemporary discussion where political issues blurred the human drama, he collaborated with three photoreporters to create 3 videos and 9 pictures: Reza (National Geographic/World Press Photo Award/Infinity Award), Johanna de Tessieres (La Libre/Paris Match/Handicap International) and Olivier Papegnies (La Libre Belgique/Médecins du Monde/Nikon Photo Press Award).

From their photos portraits of exiles at different stages of their journey – in the refugee camps in Lebanon, on the road, in the Jungle of Calais, or in front of the Foreign Office in Brussels – Thomas Israel draws signs, curves, lines, points on their faces and their bodies, pushes our looks to stay longer, in order to grasp the uniqueness, the preciosity, to imagine a before and an after. Thanks to this gesture, the immediacy of the picture extends into our imaginations and give us time for empathy.

Internal exile adds to the geopolitical drama that causes these victims forced departure. By its signs, Thomas Israel indicates a biographical track engraved on the bodies. A personal reading level is added to the original poignant photo : the artist interpretation is in relation to an inter-generational memory of the exodus. All these trajectories are transformed into a kind of alphabet, a writing of the artist, translating what language and reason cannot explain.

Thomas Israel suggest us to take a position beyond images and figures. He propose to face our responsibilities, our beliefs, our fears, our hopes, and invites us to refocus on Humanity

EXILT  Video I – II – III

Made by Thomas Israël, based on the pictures of  Reza (National Geographic/World Press Photo Award/In nity Award), Johanna de Tessières (La Libre Belgique/Paris Match/Handicap International) and Olivier Papegnies (Collectif Huma et La Libre Belgique/Médecins du Monde/Nikon Photo Press Award)

2016 , 3 editions + 2 EA –  Original format: 4K, 16-10  – 11minutes 45 sec , 10minutes 45 sec, 15minutes 32 sec.

Reza’s photographic work is of Syrian children during the ARTE Reporting project “Refugees”, visible on ARTE website. December 2013, Kawergosk camp, northern Iraq.

Olivier Papegnies photos are taken between June 2015 and February 2016 in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. He followed the World Medical teams and Handicap International in Syrian refugee camps in Zahle (Lebanon) and Al Za’atari (Jordan) but also at their mobile clinics in Louci (Lebanon) and in their family visits to refugees in Chtaura (Lebanon). Two photos are from one of his visits with Médecins du Monde at the Calais “Jungle” in June 2015.

Johanna Tessieres created from 3 series of photos between end 2013 and end 2015. First: portraits of Yezidis women in the city of Dohuk and in the Rwanga refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. These women abducted by Daech then offered or even sold to fighters of the Islamic State, are now seeking to rebuild. Then, Syrian children refugees pictures in the camp of Al Za’atari Jordan. Third during a night in Brussels with the exiles who were waiting in the cold before the Foreigners Office until morning to have a chance of filling their asylum demand in the morning.

EXILT – Pictures

9 Pictures / 2016
Based on pictures of Reza , Johanna de Tessières et Olivier Papegnies (joint copyright)
Mat paper glued on aluminium, 10 signed exemplaires by both artists, 72x48cm & 30 x 40 cm

Fresco and Drawings

framed Indian ink drawings on paper  ( 20-28cm and 30x40cm ) and ink drawings on the wall. variable dimensions . 2016

A few Exhibition vues

@ Galerie Charlot – Paris  (Solo Show)  / @ Musée Juif de Belgique (Bruxelles, Terre d’accueil ?) – Brussels  / @ Flagey (journée Mondiale des réfugiés)   / @ Chateau de Fernelmont (Fernelmont Contemporary)   /  @BORDER TRIENNAL – tournais / @BXL DORADO – Brussels    / @ ESCALE DU NORD  (La Syrie, devoir de mémoire) / and others


Very touched by the Nobel Peace Price received by Nadia Murad. Until tonight she was for me the anonymous Yesidi women, who’s photo portrait was made by Johanna De Tessieres and on witch I spend hours drawing for our EXILT exhibition pictures and video. At the time, she was hiding under a fake name, in a secret camp in Irak with other Yesidi women former sexual slave of Daesh. May her people find with this Nobel Price more recognition for their suffering and genocide, on their long path to reconstruction.

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