DIFC | BOOTH B22
Ayyam Gallery at Art Dubai 2021
29 March | 3 April 2021
Ayyam Gallery is pleased to present the most recent works by Safwan Dahoul at the 2021 DIFC edition of Art Dubai. In this body of work, Dahoul surrenders. Make sure to visit us at booth B22 March 29th through April 3rd 2021.
Since the late 1980s, Dahoul’s Dream series has explored the physical and psychological effects of alienation, solitude, and longing that punctuate the human experience at various stages in life. Partly autobiographical, this seminal body of work uses the formal properties of painting to recreate the subconscious sense of enclosure that surfaces during times of crisis, whether in the event of mourning, estrangement, or political conflict.
Moving away from the romanticism of dreams and its shelter, Safwan and his alter ego have awoken after placing his voice in what seems to be a more lifelike environment metaphorically. Reality and its inconsistency are mirrored in the canvas through sharper lines and, most importantly, folds and ripples, illustrating life’s obstacles.
The artist is posing questions through disfiguration and distortion, stressing hardship and troubles while leaving some space for hope and answers. As the artist explains it, his paintings are his life’s chronicles. The artist’s loss of stability inspired this previous series. Explicitly, and unintentionally the artist found himself tackling displacement through crumbled images; with his ripples, the artist explores uncertainty through the imperfect reflection of contemporary humanity.
In his latest work, Safwan has reached a point of surrender. Both protagonist and artist have found peace and tranquility. The sharpness and violence that filled Safwan's work have decreased formally and metaphorically. Dahoul's symbolism is enhanced in this new body of work but especially in the diptych. The figure is slowly finding its way out of the chaos, progressively letting go of the knife into the abyss, the unknown. Decades into his career, Safwan is no longer dreaming, on the contrary, he has found a sense of calm in the face of reality.
About the artist
With a career spanning over three decades, Safwan Dahoul is now a household name both regionally and internationally. As one of the foremost painters in the Arab world, the artist has repeatedly demonstrated how contemporary modes of figuration can describe the psychic terrain of a region that is in constant flux. Throughout his career, Dahoul has managed to include varying artistic styles while still keeping to his core identity and style.
Dahoul is mostly known for his beautiful melancholic and monochromatic works that present influences from the Cubist style of Picasso ranging to Assyrian and Pharaonic art. Since the late 1980s, the artist began an ongoing body of work investigating the dream state. Simply entitled the Dream series, these works have explored the physical and psychological effects of alienation, solitude, and longing that punctuate the human experience at various stages in life.
Partly autobiographical, this seminal body of work uses the formal properties of painting to recreate the subconscious sense of enclosure that surfaces during times of crisis, whether in the event of mourning, estrangement, or political conflict. The artist’s recurring female protagonist facilitates this visceral experience through her contorted body, often-vacant eyes, and minimised yet monumental physicality. Depicted in the confinement of ambiguous settings, her presence is defined by the placement of various objects that seem to deepen the state of her disaffection, as even the familiar becomes a trigger of distress.
Born in 1961 in Hama, Syria, Dahoul was initially trained by leading modernists at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Damascus before travelling to Belgium, where he earned a doctorate from the Higher Institute of Plastic Arts in Mons. Upon returning to Syria, he began teaching at the Faculty of Fine Arts and was a prominent member of the Damascus art scene. In the span of a decade, Dahoul nurtured a new generation of artists as an active mentor whose evolving aesthetic often ignited new directions in painting. Given the trajectory and status of his painting style, Dahoul’s career is regarded as a crucial link between modern and contemporary Arab art.
Dahoul’s paintings are held in numerous private and public collections, including the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; National Museum, Damascus; The Samawi Collection, Dubai; The Farjam Collection, Dubai; the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Kuwait. Recently, he has participated in solo and group exhibitions at Ayyam Gallery DIFC and 11 Alserkal Avenue, Dubai (2018, 2017, 2016); Samsung Blue Square and Busan Museum of Art, South Korea (2014); Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai (2014, 2011); Ayyam Gallery Beirut (2014); Ayyam Gallery London (2013); Edge of Arabia, London (2013); and Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (2012).