George Kubresli was raised in Damascus, the capital of Syria, which is one of the oldest inhabited capitals in the world. Prior to the war, life in the capital was generally civilized and progressive and its densely populated areas, influrenced George, especially with its ancient architecture that was juxtaposed and contrasted with modern architecture. Growing up in a family that was interested in science and literature also nurtured his relationship to art. He attended the “Adham Ismail Institute of Fine Arts” from 2002 to 2005, where in 2004, he met the famous Syrian sculptor, Fayez Nahri, who recognized his early talent. Nazri asked George to work in his studio until 2007, when he then pursued his academic studies at Damascus University in the Faculty of Fine Arts from 2007 to 2013, specializing in two dimensional painting and drawing.
The latter stage defined the direction of his current and future artwork in oil paint and watercolour. Despite the siege of the war, which started in 2011, and its effect on his artwork as an undergraduate student and an artist, he was able to maintain his art activity. His artworks from that period were included in several group exhibitions organized in Switzerland, Lebanon and Syria. These exhibitions were realized through the collaborative efforts of artists in spite of the restrictions imposed on them by the ongoing war. As the economic and political situation deteriorated and life became unbearable due to the war, death became a daily threat to their lives. In late 2013, he and his family made the hardest decision: to flee their land. This was made possible by the financial aid from relatives and friends in order to purchase the necessary tickets to relocate to Lebanon; followed by a move to Turkey, and finally to Canada.
George Kubresli recounts his journey to Canada: "In Turkey, we were hoping and searching to find “human smugglers,” who charge a fair amount, (which is lots of money for a family who has nothing), in exchange for facilitation, transportation, and our illegal entry across an international border, in this case Europe, by means of inflatable boats. The irony was that the "human smugglers" did not guarantee safe access to the European coasts, due to the large numbers of people who are doing this, but we arranged it out of desperation, while knowing that the rate of drowning and death was mounting. However, this was our only option to survive, which we were willing to resort to, until we received a phone call from my aunt informing us that she had contacted a priest who was able to sponsor our family through a church, to travel to Canada. But that would require a long and indefinite wait of over a year. During the waiting period, our hopes were diminished in the face of difficult circumstances. Discrimination and deprivation and minimal refugee rights in Turkey undermined our attempts at earning a living and securing a home. Hope would arrive at every contact from the priest, but no good news, until one day a call from him informed us of travel arrangements, and our final acceptance from the Canadian Embassy. Words fail to describe how grateful and elated we were at the news. Canada was warm despite its cold weather: through meeting people who were friendly and supportive, we were made to feel that Canada was a home away from home. My journey to Canada truly began when I was given the opportunity to continue my academic studies."
George Kubresli completed his Master’s Degree in Fine Art at Western University in 2020. His artwork is in included in the Embassy Cultural House's inaugural virtual exhibition Hiding in Plain Sight. His book titled, "The Hell of Boiling Red" was self-published in 2020 and is available through the artist. Please visit George's website for more information.