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Tony Khawam born in Aleppo, lives and works in South Florida. Khawam received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, NY (1985) and a Master in Commercial Art from Montclair State University, NJ (1987). His work stems from his interest in histories, human emotion, allusions to place, memory, and the ubiquitous 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, Roman, with influences of post-war German and American art 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.
My work stem from my interest in histories, human emotion, allusions to place, memory, and the ubiquitous fleeting moments of the conscious and unconscious. The recent work has iconic undertones with a focus on the artist’s fascination with historical imagery and the current surroundings and happenings, my paintings allude to the continuous development of the American culture.
My boundless visual appetite for making pattern paintings with figures and women in history that feature an ever-expanding list of quotidian motifs make unlikely visual combinations within expansive fields of exuberant color. I take pleasure in variety, and fully investigate each of my obsessions before moving to another painting. I trust that the fundamental underpinnings of painting that gives me the freedom to depict anything I want without illusion, perspective, logical scale shifts, or atmosphere.
Through my index of images, childhood memories of historical figures and places to everyday objects seen around me, I chronicle my life and the broader culture, synthesizing my visual material. Some of my influences span from Matisse, Picasso, the Pattern Decoration movement to the contemporaries of Pop Artists and Society painters such as Alex Katz, Peter Doig, and Chris Ofili. In a palette that ranges from restrained to vivid colors, I paint the canvases on the wall or face up on the floor, employing thinned-out acrylic, and utilitarian brushwork to emphasize aspects of motifs. Mu process is improvisational and loose, at times inviting accident and chance into the work, as well as asserting an equal relationship between artist and material.
Khawam’s work from 2015 to 2020 focused on heritage, social disruption, displacement, and immigration through the ‘Aleppo’ and ‘Chaos’ series. In 2020, he started creating new work “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.