Under The Sky- Solo Exhibition

I have used art, not only to explore my internal landscape and reflect on my own position as a descendant of a dispossessed family, but I have also expanded from an interest in personal expression to a critical awareness of current dilemmas in the world around me, including questions of mapping, diaspora, and ongoing incidents of racial stereotyping. The collective migration taking place today has recalled my own memories and is evidence of how past history is constantly reconstructed in the present. 

My proposed research explores the historical, cultural and psychological sense of place. I am very interested in the way identity and memory are interwoven with place through political and cultural boundaries. My visual narratives are informed by childhood memories, family anecdotes, and historical and geographical references. They are also inevitably larger issues that concern an entire nation sharing the same cause. Being an expatriate and having assimilated into a different culture adds to the intensity of the experience, and thus contributes to my development as an artist. I often feel simultaneously intimate and estranged in both my birthplace and current place. Given my hybrid identity, I grapple with the notion of nostalgia, belonging, and identity, and constantly compare the two places and cultures. In this sense, my artworks are metaphors of fractured identities.

In an attempt to approach representations of self and the surrounding, I employ visual vocabulary consisting of lines, colours, forms, and images drawn from my personal life experiences and ancestral heritage. For example, “The Mourners,” has a cultural reference, as women grieve through gestures and dramatic body movements. I bring these cultural elements into my painting to express similar reactions to the grotesqueness of war and its terrible consequences. The unidentified faces in my paintings become symbols to generalize the experience, and also to underscore the loss of identity and the familiar. Juxtaposed with the detailed faces in other paintings, they form a contrast between the literal and the allegorical, the familiar and unfamiliar, and the personal and public. In “Erased”, while the repetitive faces look similar, each has a subtle variation to indicate the unique individual experience of trauma despite the collective tragedy.  By placing my figures closer to the viewer in the picture plane, they become confrontational. A sense of depth is created in the background; they are walking towards the Unkown. Whereas the figures in my paintings are gestural, my faces and sculptures represent bodily fragments and mental traces, with complex connotations. Generally, all of my elements are symbolic representations and visual references to what used to be familiar but turned into unfamiliar due to the world’s brutality and indifference. 

Although I have worked with various media, I rely mainly on oil and acrylic. My technique is characterized by painterly brush strokes and a rich colour palette. I refuse to be constrained by one single style or art trend. Nonetheless, if required to categorize my style, I would say that I’m a contemporary abstract expressionist artist. To me, contemporary is to be able to depict a current theme or immediate feeling. My art is “contemporary” in the sense that it tackles current issues such as cultural identity and human suffering resulting from the unprecedented mass migration of human beings.