Thursday, 10 October 2013

”It's no longer about me”

Syrian painter Mohannad Orabi made a name for himself
thanks to playful introspective paintings called 'Self Portrait'
featuring childlike figures with huge heads and darkened
eyes that expressed his cherished childhood memories
but I was actually touched by his latest artworks that 
are blatantly affected by war atrocities.

Born in Damascus where he was brought up in an envi-
ronment rich with art, Mohannad graduated in Fine Arts
from Damascus University, traveled from Germany to
India and started developing his own storytelling style:
he won the first prize in the Syrian National 
Young Artists Exhibition in 2006.

Orabi's recent artworks show more defined characters
that are fully aware of the bloody civil war persisting in
the glorious country since March 2011 with a terrible
death toll, historical towns torn down and thousands
of people forced to move abroad leaving 
everything behind them.

The ”It's No Longer About Me” series shows more
detailed figures and faces of loved ones, their piercing
eyes directly gazing at the viewer conveying sadness
and fear, a feeling of uncertainty and danger that's
barely mitigated by a tiny spark of hope while gridded
dots fill the canvas like a curtain of sedimented grief.

Orabi not only worked on the storytelling side of his
portraits; he spent hours experimenting with different
materials melting sand and soil with different paints
to give the surface the roughness ”of a wall or a
piece of land, as if I'm drawing my portraits on my
land and on my walls. This is a way of expressing
my attachment - and anybody's attachment - to land, 

 country, home, family and memories” he declared.

Mohannad was recently forced to flee the country and
he's currently living and working in Cairo while his works
are exhibited throughout the Middle East, mostly by the
Ayyam Gallery which was founded by cousins and art
collectors Khaled and Hisham Samawi in Damascus,
briskly establishing itself as one of the foremost backers
of contemporary art with locations in Beirut, 
Dubai, Jeddah and London.

> all artworks © by Mohannad Orabi via his fb page <
Mohannad's earlier creatures looked inwards but now
they've been forced to open wide their eyes and face
the turbulent reality they're soaked in like his own art,
after all. ”To me art is all about taking the risk, pushing
the limits, thinking out of the box and see where the
coincidence will take me; all this is reflected 
in my concept and techniques.”

> the artist working on 'It's No Longer About Me' series <

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