Ayyam Gallery Beirut is pleased to announce Untitled, the forthcoming solo show of pioneering Syrian painter Asma Fayoumi. The exhibition will feature a new body of work by the artist, which she began in 2011 after the start of political unrest in Syria. A leading member of the Damascus art scene since the 1960s, Fayoumi has often utilised painting to chronicle the ever-changing social landscape of the Arab world, including the setbacks that have been brought about by various conflicts.
Although not a politicised artist in a conventional sense, Fayoumi has remained committed to her subject matter by focusing on the family unit and the intimate moments that bind its members. Whether in moments of war or the quiet of love’s contentment, the influential artist has sought to articulate the anxiety and pain or tenderness and warmth surrounding her protagonists with a painting style that details their experiences through expressionist brushwork, cubist divisions of space, and a somber palette saturated with white and grey. Fayoumi’s recognisable colour scheme indicates that the realism of her scenes lies not in the figurative representation of subject matter but rather in the perceptible emotive content of each work.
In her latest series, Fayoumi depicts couples, mothers and children, and lone heroines that occupy the entire surface of the canvas. This compositional space outlines restrictive settings that form the larger context of her works, as the artist zooms in on the frenzied state of vivid scenes. With each successive painting, and over time, the artist’s compositions have become increasingly fragmented and chaotic. The exhibition’s included works are all titled Witness. In a 2011 vertical work, a couple is turned towards each other, their faces becoming one despite a clear indication of individual features. Thin diagonal lines that intersect and extend across the painting give the illusion of spatial depth, and situate her figures in the centre of a cagelike structure that begins in the foreground of the composition and stretches to the background. At the same time, due to Fayoumi’s heavy use of abstraction, this structure can be read as a window pane, the glass of which has been shattered by an unseen ravaging force. The man and woman reappear in a 2014 painting but are separated by a white void that travels from the foreground of the composition to the central point of the work and fades into a background of urban edifices. Fading into the recesses of a city, their features morph into the weathered facets of its structures.