Safwan Dahoul explores the corporal and psychological effects of alienation, solitude, and longing that punctuate the human experience at various stages in life. Partly autobiographical, his ongoing Dream series utilises the formal properties of painting to recreate the subconscious sense of enclosure that surfaces during times of crisis, whether in mourning, estrangement, or political conflict. Dahoul’s recurring female protagonist facilitates this visceral encounter through her contorted body, often-vacant eyes, and minimised yet monumental physicality. Frequently depicted in the confinement of ambiguous settings, she is invariably defined by architectural details and the placement of interior accents such as a table or chair, deepening the state of her disaffection, as even the familiar becomes a site of distress.


Born in 1961 in Hama, Syria, Safwan Dahoul lives and works in Dubai. Dahoul attended the Suheil Al Ahdab Centre of Plastic Arts and the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Damascus before receiving a scholarship to study abroad from the Syrian Ministry of Higher Education in 1987. After relocating to Belgium, he attained a doctorate from the Higher Institute of Plastic Arts in Mons in 1997. Later, he returned to Syria where he taught at the Faculty of Fine Arts for several years.


Dahoul’s paintings are held in numerous private and public collections, including the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; The Samawi Collection, Dubai; The Farjam Collection, Dubai; and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Kuwait. Recently, he has participated in solo and group exhibitions at Samsung Blue Square and Busan Museum of Art, South Korea (2014); Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai (2014, 2011); Ayyam Gallery London (2013); Edge of Arabia, London (2013); Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi (2013); and Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (2012).