Leaning on memory covers the works with childhood warmth
Mahmoud Abu Hamed, al-Bayan – 30-09-2006
The exhibition of Syrian artist Baseem Rayyes, which started in International Artistic Center of Dubai "Gallery 76", consists of about 35 paintings drawn with different materials on nearly equal spaces of paintings, mostly are squares. Rayyes leans, in most of these works, on his memory and its mix with imaginations and metaphors, the thing that gives the painting its deep references and artistic dimension.
By framing these works with stages of his childhood, he gives the paintings poetic innocence and warmth, expressed either by his vocabulary, dreams, that magnificent foggy scene of colors and the mix with surfaces which behind the fog of meditation or even by his try to recall an old nostalgia through daydreams. The painting looks like a poem; its music are the childish warmth and its visions in searching what was already done along with what must be done through shapes of bodies shadows, environment details and its public present and absent components.
Details of the old quarter occupy all Rayyes's works in this exhibition; the thing which clearly appear through his dealing with colors. Colors of earth, stone and old buildings are the most apparent, vocabulary are repeated and limited, but the presence and mix of these colors along with the movement and positions of these details with all of their references and expressions, are differently expressed and read in the paintings due to Rayyes use of the artistic heritage in this field on one hand, and his sharp feelings and credibility in recalling his childhood memory and the traditional references on the other.
If these childish and poetic expressions appear sometimes by scratching on walls, they appear, most of the time by him, by drawing about the quarter. Since there are no horizons as is the case with nature, his dimensions are mixed and overlapped in his shaping of his artistic details whether they are shadows, bodies, materials and so on.
Among doors, windows, walls and quarters, and due to the narrowness of these dimensions, the painting looks with one surface, but the game of shadow and light, circles and body movements imply a third dimension; by its separation on one hand, and mixing with the painting details on the other, the uniqueness of Baseem Rayyes in his drawing about the quarter appears in general in order to give different reading of the same painting.
Rayyes's uniqueness is not determined by the painting's structure, technique, colors and details only, but also through the artist's reference itself and his connection with the environment. The special civic solitude of old quarters and the connection with the place are so obvious to the extent that it deprived the painting from its wide horizons, so Rayyes was divided between nostalgia and emergence, between the passion of the place and dreaming of getting out then returning to it, between what was lost of childhood as a wonderful thing and what was regained through drawing; this division gave Rayyes his uniqueness and it also helped in giving the painting multi readings in spite of the sole atmosphere of the quarter. Colors of the sky – as a reference of emergence – in bright blue paintings, the bicycle as a childhood dream were repeated themes in most of the works as an implication for emergence; they also participate in the characters' movements, dialogues sometimes or in the painting construction when they become parts of the environment details or of the main structure of the painting.
Expressionist realism is the most apparent style in Rayyes's works although there are some exceptions in their technical and artistic context through reshaping, characterization and sometimes abstraction; they are logical and quiet exceptions but there is a sudden change, sometimes, away from the quarters' environment, the color nature of most works and the style of Rayyes which was common in this exhibition. Some can be related to the case of emergence (childish sometimes) of place, so blue paintings appear away from the ordinary although the artist used almost the same material; they tries to express an unfinished different experience but they looked as a sudden move out. Others can be related to trying to get out of the quarters' environment to the village's, but this resulted into lacking of wide horizons and dimensions of the village. Some can also be related to technical experiments such as working on collage; some look quite near to the artist's style in working on the color atmosphere of quarters while others got a way to shape different variations which appeared raw and confused in the literal meaning of confusion and the spontaneous meaning of experimentalism.
The general impression of the exhibition stays related with that soft colorful fog which implies the depth of nostalgia, warmth of intimacy, and the artist's sensitivity and poeticism in recalling not only childhood itself, but also its true feelings.
Translated by: Yazan el-Haj