Statement

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TONY KHAWAM, was born in Aleppo, Syria and immigrated to the U.S. with his parents at age 16. He is a graduate from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and now lives and works in Florida. He was a frequent visitor to Aleppo and Damascus National Museums during his childhood that exposed him to the art of ancient civilizations that shaped his current artistic direction with influences of post-war German and American art. His urban architecture and heritage paintings are formed by ideas about today’s socio-cultural issues such as social disruption, displacement, and immigration intertwined with the American culture.

Khawam is a contemporary Syrian-American artist and curator. He is deeply rooted with the Middle Eastern heritage intertwined with his new life in the U.S. and the American dream. His work explores social and heritage structures that objectify marginalized communities and the bodies of vulnerable populations especially the immigrants. His work examines the cross-cultural dynamic in our communities for better cultural bridge building and understanding. Just as essential to Khawam’s work is a social engagement practice through which he reframes objectifying societal structures by bringing contemporary arts and ideas into different multicultural communities through arts and cultural institutions.

Khawam’s work is characterized by its layered formal, material, and conceptual complexity of a grid like forms, colors and gestures in more experimental, spontaneous working process. In addition to acrylic paint, he employs some of the traditional methods of dyed yarn hand made knitting, burlap and silicone which are exclusively human characteristics and are features of the human society to bring forth some of the hidden historical motifs into the contemporary work. The art is sketched from various references including his photography and media images to create a semi-realistic composition. The second half of the process is the deconstruction of the forms in a semi-abstract manner highlighted with bold shapes, and gestural brushstrokes by the use of materials that intensify our visual experience.

Khawam believes in the power of arts through his artwork and the curatorial exhibitions by bringing the community together to increase knowledge, build awareness, spark interest for cultural bridge building and understanding. Art builds community and create space for dialogue by bringing people together from communities of various cultural background and expose them to the arts and culture while viewing artworks, tasting authentic food, and listening to classical music from different culture. Also, he believes in the power of social media especially after the Pandemic disruption on our works and lifestyle which offers an opportunity to engage a larger audience via Zoom and FB Live of cultural lectures, musical performances, poetry, film screening and culinary arts.

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