Painter Walid El Masri’s practice revolves around the repeated examination of a single material subject as he explores variations in depth and space through abstracted compositions. In the past, the artist’s subject of choice was a chair, the stillness of which provided an anchoring pictorial element amidst the riotous brushwork of a non-descript setting. Like Morandi's vases or Cezanne's apples, El Masri's depictions are less about the objects themselves and more about the possibility of transformation that is derived from paying close attention to the object over time. In a recent body of work the artist observes movement and vibration as encapsulated in the life cycle of a butterfly cocoon, the dramatic transition of which stands as a symbolic representation of Syria in its current state.
Of Lebanese background, El Masri was born in Syria in 1979. Prior to completing a Bachelor of Arts at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Damascus in 2005, he studied the art of mosaic and trained with renowned expressionist painter Marwan Kassab Bachi at the Summer Academy of Darat Al-Funun, Amman, Jordan. Selected solo exhibitions include Ayyam Gallery, London (2014); Europia Gallery Paris (2014); Ayyam Gallery Jeddah (2013); Ayyam Gallery Beirut (2013); Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai (2012); Ayyam Gallery Al Quoz, Dubai (2009); Art Beijing Contemporary Art Fair (2009); Art Hong Kong Art Fair (2009); Ayyam Gallery Damascus (2008); Syrian Cultural Centre, Paris (2007) and the French Cultural Center, Damascus (2006). Selected group exhibitions include the Busan Museum of Art (2014); Samsung Blue Square, Seoul (2014); the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (2014) and the Institut des Cultures d’Islam, Paris (2014).