War, We Choose You!:Khaled Akil by Jason Collins

Khaled Akil is a Syrian-born artist who is best known for his photography series called Pokemon Go, which is set in Syria. Akil is a self-taught artist and photographer but comes from an artistic background, with his father being a political artist.

Akil is currently based in Istanbul, Turkey, where he creates his unique artworks that express his feelings through the mediums instead of Akil speaking them with words.  

Khaled Akil’s Family Tree

Akil was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1986, and he comes from a family that is known for its artists and political influences. Akil’s father is a famous and respected political artist named Youssef Akil. He also is the maternal grandson of the historical Syrian figurehead and author named Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi

Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi was known for his political views against the Ottoman Empire that controlled the areas of the Arab Nations. He died in 1902 under a suspicious cause that the family believed Turkish agents arranged.

Khaled Akil’s Early Career

Akil began exhibiting his art back in 2009 with two known art exhibitions. They included a solo exhibition at the Sarmad Art Gallery located in Aleppo, Syria. He also did a group exhibition called “From Aleppo With Love,” held at Le Pont Gallery, Syria.

Because of the escalation of war and military activities, Akil moved to Istanbul, Turkey, and now continues his art career from there. 

Akil’s Syrian War Photos

Akil is most famous for his Syrian war photos that are called “Pokemon Go In Syria – Part 1,” as they show destruction but have a bright anime animal character in them. When Akil took these photos, his home city of Aleppo looked like a massive pile of rubble from the then five years of civil war. 

During that same time in 2016, the viral mobile game called Pokemon Go took the world by storm. It worked by using your camera to view “virtual” Pokemon found in the real world. Akil decided to use the mobile to show a different view of the war.

As you look at the photos of crater holes created by bombs and mortar shells, you can see a Pokemon character lurking in a broken pipe. There are many photos like this that show how people are trying to get on with their lives and that even though there is a war, nothing will stop the citizens of Syria.

In an interview with AL Jazeera, Akil stated, “Unfortunately, and like any other war, after a while people grow either bored, or too used to the news of death and destruction, and they get on with their lives. This might ultimately be a gentle reminder-poke, excuse the pun.”

Other Artwork

This is Aleppo – Khaled Akil

One of Akil’s other photography series, called “This is Aleppo,” depicts the natural and historic beauty of his home city Aleppo. The set of photos depicts how historical and old the city actually is. Some of the photos show where people have stayed since the third millennium BC. 

Akil also photographs the historic Citadel of Aleppo in the series, and it is one of the oldest and strongest castles ever constructed.  

Jason Collins is a freelance writer, epicure, and lover of all things human expression. While he has not had the opportunity to go to the Louvre in-person he has taken more virtual tours than he would care to remember or mention. When he is not out getting lost somewhere in the desert of Nevada he spends most of his time with his two beagles Max and Sherry.

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