Almost a Dream
Ayyam Gallery, Dubai (DIFC)
Ayyam Gallery Dubai (DIFC) is delighted to announce Almost a Dream, an exhibition of new work by acclaimed Syrian painter Safwan Dahoul from the 5 February - 13 March. Firmly established as one of the most prominent Arab artists working today, Dahoul will exhibit paintings created within the last year, since his hugely successful 2013 debut UK exhibition, Repetitive Dreams. While incorporating Dahoul’s signature monochromatic, minimalistic style, the paintings in Almost a Dream import a new, more direct engagement with reality on the ground as they relate to recent catastrophic events in the artist’s native country of Syria. Having been invested in hulum, the dream, for the past 25 years, Dahoul has begun to distance himself from the realm of the dream and examine whether it is actually dreams which inspire his paintings or something else entirely. This in-between realm of dreaming and not dreaming is evident in several of his bold works. The ﬁrst of these grey and white paintings shows a wide-eyed angel ﬁgure looking down towards a group of children lying motionless, a reference to the innocent children who died last year as a result of chemical warfare in Syria. With eyes open widely, Dahoul’s angel continues to witness the ongoing atrocities in his homeland. The angel protagonist is often employed by the artist as a symbolic embodiment of Syria. One work sets the angel’s visage in proﬁle against a black background, her winged eye vacuous and dark. The angel who usually looks down at the people of her country is here physically pointed downwards and subjected to the gaze of the viewers, like Syria to the external world. A large, light greyscale canvas centres Dahoul’s female face with an effect of crinkling visible across the surface. This crumpling effect is a dissolving of sorts, which mirrors the fractionating state of Syria. Dahoul states that what is happening in Syria is not ‘normal’, so in the face of this terror, destruction and grief, he presents the face of his signature narrator in an suitably abnormal fashion, creased and with closed eyes suggestive of resignation and to the events unfolding around her.
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