Sha Sarwari is a beautiful man with a story that has affected him, a story that has shaped him and a story that is affecting me. As I finished reading his letter “To Australia” for him at the opening of his show at Jugglers on June 7, he embraced me with eyes full of tears and a voice full of repeated thanks. Here is a gifted artist with a powerful narrative in his paper and cardboard boat and exquisite painted 2 dimensional works on paper and canvas representing his angst, escape and deep existential questions. It is taking time and reflection for me to find a place of meeting with him. I have never had to escape from my homeland and family as a minority, marginalised and hated by strong and violent religious fanatics. I have been in a minority organisation and found it hard to be accepted and “normal” but never like this. And then to find that the place of welcome has become the place of rejection, and the ark of safety has become a leaking aimless waterlogged paper boat going nowhere feels like some kind of fate overseen by some cruel loveless being. But the positive is that Sha is making art and creating beauty around his story that is inspiring viewers profoundly. Sha’s art and other artists from Afghanistan are beginning to find a niche in the Australian visual art landscape as story telling and as very worthwhile additions to collections.
A boat brought him here