Ayyam Gallery London is delighted to announce Syrian painter, Safwan Dahoul’s first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom, 'Repetitive Dreams'. Firmly established as one of the most prominent Arab artists working today, he will present the first series of paintings he has created since leaving Damascus for Dubai last year. This coincides with an exhibition of large-scale works by Dahoul at Edge of Arabia London from 8 May - 15 June 2013.
The exhibition title, 'Repetitive Dreams', refers not only to the subject of Dahoul’s works, but to the enduring influence that dreams have had in his career. He first started titling his paintings 'Hulum', or 'Dream', 25 years ago and sees the process of consistently re-interpreting the theme as an artistic challenge which inspires creativity. Essential to the artist’s work is the universality of dreaming, and the dream’s potential for multiple interpretations: in responding to Dahoul’s dreams as they would theirs, the viewer is able to form their own, unique understanding of the artist’s meaning.
For Dahoul, every event that happens in our life time is a repetition of another past moment. Examining a diverse range of subjects, from love to war, his canvases feature images that recur and evolve while remaining essentially unchanged. Working in a predominantly monochromatic palette, the artist uses black and grey to suggest deep hollows of space. These muted tones also offer a reflection of his personal life, echoing the absence of vibrant colours which Dahoul perceived when living in his native Syria.
Each of the eight panels that make up the polyptych Dream 59 depicts a lone abstracted female figure situated within a linear landscape. In each successive painting, the image becomes more indistinct as the intensity of the light tones gradually increases, evocative of a film reel over-exposed in its last few frames. These tonal differences make each portrait distinct, yet their otherwise identical form indicates a single, immutable instant. His paintings often contain a cinematic quality, and the nature and history of dream sequences in cinema are of interest to the artist. Dahoul has recently expanded his practice to experiment with the medium of film, directly engaging with notions of evolution, time and repetition through introducing a durational element.
The exhibition of Dahoul’s monumentally-sized paintings at Edge of Arabia’s London space marks a collaboration between the not-for-profit art initiative and Ayyam Gallery. In addition to the work on show, there will be a book signing of Ayyam Gallery’s 2009 monograph on Dahoul’s work and a talk at the opening event on 8 May. The artist has also produced eight new limited edition prints, which will be on sale throughout the exhibition.
Born in 1961 in Hama, Syria, Safwan Dahoul lives and works in Dubai. Dahoul attended the Suheil Al Ahdab Center of Plastic Arts and the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus. In 1987 he received a scholarship to study abroad from the Ministry of Higher Education and relocated to Belgium, achieving his Doctorate from the Higher Institute of Plastic Arts in Mons in1997. His work is held in numerous private and public collections including the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; The Samawi Collection, Dubai; The Farjam Collection, Dubai; and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Kuwait.
Previous solo exhibitions include: Ayyam Gallery Al Quoz, Dubai (2011); Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai (2011); and Ayyam Gallery Al Quoz, Dubai (2008). Group exhibitions include: Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi (2013); Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (2012); Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai (2011); Ayyam Gallery Beirut (2009); and Ayyam Gallery Damascus (2006).