Universes in Universe

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Marwan Kassab Bachi

This room in the museum features four artworks by the prolific Syrian artist Marwan Kassab Bachi (1934–2016). Marwan’s painting and printmaking explore the human condition through psychological investigations of the standing figure and the face or head often as self-portraiture. He repetitively painted the human head as a landscape upon which to excavate and express the complexities of the soul.

The painting on the far left is titled Three Palestinian Boys, and was executed in the year 1970. At a time when art produced in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle usually relied on easily recognizable motifs, such as the Fidayeen (freedom fighters with their checkered headdress keffiyeh ) or women in embroidered dresses, Marwan chose to paint youngsters – those Palestinian youths who became iconic figures during the First Intifada as a symbol of resistance. In Marwan’s work, the young boys appear to us in all their vulnerability – three kids with their shirts open at the neck and rolled up sleeves; kids as one would find them in the thousands on the streets of any city or refugee camp. But Marwan gives them a greater significance; he paints them from a low angle, making them appear larger than life.

Text by Mandy Merzaban and Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi

© Photo: Courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation, Photography by Capital D Studio

A Century in Flux - photos

Highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation. Sharjah Art Museum, UAE, 12 May 2018 - 31 May 2023. Curators: Salwa Mikdadi, Mandy Merzaban, Karim Sultan.

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