When Painting Becomes a Message of Love and Devotion
Baseem Rayyes declares his gift for the new year:
A Painting on Every Wall
"Love is a language of act, not just words. So, I will not talk too much, and I'll express my love for you by an act of beauty. For all my art lover friends, for you, wherever you are, whatever language or nationality you are, my gift in 2011is a painting for each one of you; may the painting combine us. You can communicate to get the gift (a painting) through the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org between 112011 till 3112011. Share this invitation with the people you love."
This is what was declared by the Syrian artist, based in Emirates, Baseem Rayyes. "May it be a month of art and beauty; a month for all art lovers who cannot afford a genuine painting of a famous painter; a month for all _ form taxi driver, student, housewife and even the simple man who sells falafel. I do not mind if my painting was on one of the walls of an ordinary man's house."
Why not, since art is a message which is important for everyone, and should be delivered to all!
Why not, since people's wish to get a painting is faced by the so expensive price of it!
Why not, since paintings can be delivered to all hearts passionate for respectful and true art!
Why not, since it is a universally unique initiative which reminds us of time in which the actor stepped down the stage to be nearer to the ordinary man, for free; so, he presented his art in front of the viewers with their different cultural, intellectual, social and political levels in order to be united by the language of art.
Is not it the time to say "No" to the full-pocket men and the private galleries, in a time in which everything has turned to be an item to be bought and sold, from the painting to the artist himself?
Here, I started to get the importance of the message Baseem is trying to deliver to others, which states it as, "Love is a language of act, not just words."
It is, really, a message of pure love in a time where love has decreased while the abstract has increased; a message which Baseem believes in, and tries to present and devote away from all selfish and personal motives, and very near to ignoring and transcending materials and trivial issues.
I was stopped by someone who said, "why is Baseem doing this, while he can sell his painting for thousands of dollars. Does he have extra paintings which he does not care about?"
No matter what number of extra paintings Baseem has (which I do not think so), it will not be enough for hundreds of people who wish to get a painting; not to mention that Baseem devoted himself, for an entire month, to draw for everyone.
I was also stopped by another who said, "this initiatives are done by an immature artist who tries to be famous!"
The wonderful thing, here, is that Baseem is not an immature artist. He is experienced and professional; his paintings occupy a special space in exhibitions and galleries. And here comes the importance of his message, "I draw for drawing's sake only." Despite the fact that his painting is already wanted and sold.
Is it a brave new step in order to decrease the gap between the painting and its viewer?
Or, is it a try to plant the seeds of love in a time where the language of war is common?
Or, is it a try to seduce more art lovers who cannot afford a painting?
It is a brave try, no matter what questions does it answers, and no matter what the viewpoint of its artist is. This braveness is generated form its uniqueness and difference of the common, whether in fine arts or in other fields.
And the thing that gives this initiative more of its courage is that it is declared by a brave, experienced and professional artist whom painting, to him, is a way of life.
So, what if we know that his painting is sold for thousands of dollars?
What if we know that his painting occupy a distinctive space in highly respected galleries in several places of the world?
Baseem Rayyes is a brave artist indeed. He got his courage from his ability to neglect the direct winning from his painting to the sake of delivering this painting its lover who really cares about it.
He declared his initiative with no conditions on the people who wish to; you should only send an email request, and you will get your painting!
Who, of us, has this ability of unconditioned generosity?
In such a hard time, where everything has a special scale which measures the action, most of the time, by its material reaction; where every word, hour, friendship and generosity has its price.
Baseem declared that that he will dedicate his precious time, for an entire month, to draw for all; for every art lover and seeker. He declared this and started it. Here, after a week from his declaration, he delivered a group of people "their paintings", as he call them. Moreover, he stated that he will give a title for the painting which is the name of its seeker!
The idea, in itself may sound strange at first, but it implies more generosity (to give you a painting which carries your name). I do not think anyone can refuse such a precious gift!
Requests come all over the world; Canada, America, Europe, Iran and Arab countries, and all who heard about the gift and wanted the painting.
Baseem, as he says, is ready to draw for all; everyone with no exception.
This month is devoted for drawing for free. Good words is the only thing he gets, or astonishment with exclamation marks, which, after the initiative is understood, turn to be words of thankfulness.
Baseem says that he does not expect anything in return, from the people who wish to get his paintings, but he will definitely be happy for getting some phrases of love and thankfulness. So, what if one of the receivers will say astonishingly and happily: "I haven't got any gift in my entire life, and now I receive a painting full of humanity?"
Wall, to Baseem Rayyes, has another tale:
In 2006, he established a solo exhibition in which he recalled his memories of the wall; it was titled (Memory of Place on Time).
In 2009, he established another solo exhibition with the title (On the Wall).
In 2004, he wrote an open text which varies between prose, verse and short story in which the wall was the main focus in it:
(I stitch my mouth with a bottle of wine.
A wall grows near me, and I sleep on a black cloud of old cotton, I wake on the extension of a long grey shadow as a proof of an ordinary disaster, I get out of the circle of illusion to the group punishment… I get my share of noise which wind kept within… and through another day to the sewage of the cement city… I come back and the wall leafed a hole as a window which looks upon a holed history.
My four brothers divided the four walls between them, and the ceiling was carried by the mother to heaven in her last immigration from earth. I burp a poem on the cliff of Font, I smell the incense of my birth, and I dangle on my feet as a cluster of memories, I stitch my mouth with a bottle of wine, and hang my tongue on the wall as a Byzantine painting. At night, we all shelter by rain drops.
What the warmer stores becomes a black raven on the chimney. I close my heart on a hewn love, a hewn house and a hewn family. I collect rain in my eyeballs and make snow on a hill of ashes. Frozen in my head are the legendry tales of my grandmother about kingdoms which their people leave in the season of harvest, about the phoenix which emerges from the sun ray, and about a fairy who protects the tops of the mountains.
I touch a passing thought, so I find that the worn-out buildings are my being, bare walls are my body and the teary windows are my eyes which witness the turn of a poplar tree into an electricity pole on the road of mirage, and matches sticks on the sidewalk of destruction. I peep from a hole next to me and see walls which fly upwards, walls which fall downwards, and the water surface is a witness on the moon depart. The clank of my body awakens the silence out of his hole. I tremble with cold and fear and wear a gown of barbed wool.
A worm sneaks out of a wall and gets into my ear. It eats my escaping thoughts and swallows sleepiness. It is that same one which got out my father's nose forty winters ago. I seal my nose by red wax and breathe the silence. A mouse is born in my chest, confuses the wood pillars and reminds me of the fog. I pluck my chest and make it a ceiling on nicotine.
A bird sings in my stomach. He has nothing but excrement and void. I cut off my stomach and swallow it as a last supper.
I read on my forehead, "Between my start and end, thousands of bare heads," and a head with a thousand walls gives wheat and water to Nostradamus to predict for it the time of ice staying on heads.
I look to my papers which are thirsty for ink, and my painting hungry for color. I wait the moment to melt into whiteness, fly the blueness up high, and red into laughing lips. I sweep the walls of earth with the rubber, and write with green on the disjointed ceiling what that young man scratched on what is left of his fence: "I am Lawrence, and I will not be sad again.
With cock crowing, I will uproot the smell of rust and slaughter the earth's neck with a kiss."
Baseem Rayyes has worked between the text and the painting; wall was his special tale, so the gift of this year came as if it continues a work he started. Is it the end of the wall story for him? Or, is it just a passing point?
Baseem Rayyes, a Syrian artist who was born in 1970.
He was born in one of Bab Touma quarters in Old Damascus
He, as those old walls, resisted cruel conditions of life and early orphanage.
After losing his father, he took responsibilities which were bigger than his fresh branch for many years.
He loved art, which has become his great secret passion which he has practiced out of sight and away from studying and work time.
He has dedicated much of his effort to live life, and even much more to his real passion, art.
He graduated from Agricultural Engineering faculty, refused the official job and dedicated his full time to art.
He has lived in United Arab Emirates for more than nine years, and his great potentials still hide more to give.
- Born in Damascus, Syria (1970)
- An artist and a short story writer.
- Member of Fine Arts Union.
- Member of Emirates Society of Fine Arts.
- Graduated from Damascus University.
- Participated in many solo and group exhibitions in Syria and United Arab Emirates.
- He, also, participated in many group exhibitions abroad (Istanbul, Paris and New York).
- His paintings are acquired by art lovers (institutions and individuals) in Syria, United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy, Istanbul, New York and Africa.
- He won several prizes for writing short story, such as Al- Sharja Arab Creativity Prize and GhanemGhabbash Prize for Short Story.
- He wrote and directed a short film, (Boundaries of the Grey).
Thank you Baseem,
Thanks for your wonderful art,
Thanks for your great human message,
Thanks because there are people like you on this good land,
With you among us, we are sure that the earth is generous and will still be.
Thanks for Syria, whom you are its son, the son of the good country and good people.
Let us celebrate you, as you celebrated us in the new year,
We wish that we deserve trust which you have given us.
Khawla Dunia, D Press
Translated by: Yazan el-Haj