Safwan Dahoul’s evocative canvases, all of which share the title Dream, examine some of the most intimate moments of the human experience: slumber, companionship, solitude and death. The soulful, dreamy human figures that populate his work are ‘substance matter’ for the artist, a tool through which he depicts and preserves his own biography.
Dominated by black, white and muted tones, Dahoul’s canvases explore the relationship between the figure and its background, between the human being and space. His minimalist use of colour references his surroundings and is a response to the absence of colour now seen on the streets of Syria and the rest of the Middle East.
Firmly rooted in the personal, Dahoul’s work is also rich in art historical references; from the elaborately maquillaged eyes and cavalier perspective of Pharaonic Egypt, to gestural fingers that trace their lineage to Roman oration; to the checkerboard patterning common on Insular metalwork. The geometric shapes and curvature in the lines of Dahoul’s figures allude to the elaborate patterns of Arabic calligraphy.
Born in 1961 in Hama, Syria, Safwan Dahoul lives and works in Dubai. Selected solo exhibitions include Ayyam Gallery London (2013), Ayyam Gallery Al Quoz, Dubai (2011, 2009) Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai (2011), Ayyam Gallery Beirut (2009).