11/17/2014, 00.00
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Mauro Valsangiacomo, a painter inspired by Mosul refugees

The Swiss painter will take part in the AsiaNews International Symposium, scheduled for tomorrow, where he will present one of his works, 'Family on the run', which was inspired by the harrowing experience of Iraqi Christians who fled Mosul. His series of paintings titled 'Meditation on the Middle East' depict destruction and compassion and coincide with the painter's return to the Catholic faith.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Swiss painter Mauro Valsangiacomo is among the guests of the AsiaNews International Symposium. For the occasion, he brought a painting titled 'Family on the run', which will be on display in the John Paul II auditorium, inspired by images of Christian refugees who fled Mosul after they suffered threats and acts of violence from the Islamic State.

The large painting portrays a mother with a child and a father figure in an expressionist style, surrounded by broken buildings and a crumbled reality.

The work is part of a series with meaningful titles like "Flight", "Burnt Church", "Church destroyed," "House on fire", "Rubbles and destruction", "Slave", "Chased down and persecuted", which were part of an exhibition presented in Locarno (Switzerland) between September and November titled 'Meditazione sul Medio Oriente'  (Meditation on the Middle East).

The works are the product of the painter's artistic meditation on the violence against Christians in Mosul, forced by the Islamic state to choose between conversion to Islam and flight, between paying protection money or death. His friendship towards AsiaNews began with Adopt a Christian from Mosul campaign.

"I painted instinctively a number of pictures relating to the Middle East," he said. "I feel helpless in the face of reports that are increasingly terrifying, unbearable (dead piling up, destruction, women enslaved and sold as a thing, decapitated children) . . .".

"When the first reports came from Iraq in early August, I experienced feelings of dismay that I could not contain," he told the Lugano daily Giornale del popolo.

"I was overwhelmed by contradictory emotions that were real and ran deep. I do not know from what source I got the strength, but I literally let myself be carried away, and my hand painted and painted with my heart into it. "

His nervous and explosive painting expressed the tragedy of people who are "oppressed, defeated and full of pain," along with a sacred dignity and a deep compassion.

Born in 1950 in Chiasso (Switzerland), Valsangiacomo Mauro, returned to his Catholic faith "only six months ago" as part of his artistic and spiritual journey.

"I came to realise that I belonged to the same community as those persecuted people," he said.

"What bothered me was the question of what I would do if I found myself with a knife at the throat. Would I renege my origins to save my life and that of my relatives, or would I remain faithful to my baptism and accept to be slaughtered along with my family? Many Christians who are my contemporaries are choosing the second solution, and they have my greatest admiration."

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