Statement

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Tony Khawam was born in Aleppo, Syria and immigrated to the U.S. in 1977. He is a graduate from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and now lives and works in Florida. He creates visual experiences of interiors and landscapes that place the viewer in vibrant and enduring habitats through an architectural lens in his recent painting series. From renderings of contemporary era Modernist interiors to playful interpretations of art and architecture borrowed from the ancient civilizations. He explores the formal concerns of mining ancient histories to reflect today through myths, legends, symbols, and architecture intertwined with his American experience through the ‘American Dream’ series.

Khawam’s work stems from his interest in histories, human emotion, allusions to place, memory, and the ubiquitously fleeting moments of the conscious and unconscious. The recent work has iconic undertones with a focus on the artist’s fascination with historical imagery from the ancient Mesopotamian, Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman adopted into his daily artistic and structural practices with the current surroundings and happenings by marrying a skewed perspective with dimensional flatness, his paintings allude to the continuous development of the American culture.

The past and present make the case for the way art and its language of color, line, and shape enrich a viewer’s experience of the work and ultimately the world while embracing the complex and broad spectrum of human emotion in his semi-autobiographical paintings. The sentiments bound up in his vivid paintings reflect this unfamiliar time… from solitude and anxiety to romance and harmony to tension and tragedy.

Khawam’s work from 2015 to 2020 focused on social disruption, displacement, and immigration through the ‘Aleppo’ and ‘Chaos’ series. In 2020, he started creating new work as stringent quarantine orders began to lift, and the world drastically changed once more. “I wanted to flip the narrative and experiment with a subject and a style opposite of the ‘Chaos’ series by exploring past glories and prosperity from an immigrant’s perspective of the American dream. His work offers a delicate balance between figuration and geometrical abstraction, mirroring the real and unreal ways in which he renders lived experiences. Moreover, his myriad mediums including acrylic and gel further support these dichotomies as the image becomes simultaneously flattened and fractured by referencing painterly style to create a harmonious image through tension. The figurative inclusion in the recent work speaks to a continuity in our human draw towards interpreting our environment with past and present in painting and mark making.

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