The term “chiaroscuro” was alien to me, that is until I read the graphic novel “Freedom Hospital” by Hamid Sulaiman. It’s an art style that involves heavy contrast between light and dark shades. Sulaiman uses stark black & white inks to tell us the story of the Syrian conflict.
Lines are blurred between the rebels & the regime, until one cannot decide which is the greater evil. One of the main protagonists is Yasmin, who runs an underground hospital that helps treat the wounded for free.
During the course of the tale, the hospital is either bombed out of destroyed at least thrice, but she manages to rebuild it again. It symbolises the indomitable spirit of those fighting for a peaceful, free nation.
I felt like there wasn’t any coherent story and the characters were mostly forgettable. As far as the artwork is concerned in the book, unlike most critics who seem in awe of the artwork, I felt like it was slightly chaotic and sort of made the reader lose interest in the panels. Some might feel like the artistic chaos is metaphorical of the human tragedy & mayhem in Syria, but cleaner drawn figures would have made it more engaging. The artwork just didn’t work for me. It’s a 3/5 for me.