About The Work
Since the late 1980s, Dahoul’s Dream series has explored the physical and psychological effects of alienation, solitude, and longing that punctuate the human experience at various stages in life. Partly autobiographical, this seminal body of work uses the formal properties of painting to recreate the subconscious sense of enclosure that surfaces during times of crisis, whether in the event of mourning, estrangement, or political conflict.
In his last body of work, with the aptly titled exhibition Still Dreaming Dahoul questions “Are we still dreaming?”. Moving away from the romanticism of dreams and the shelter they offer while still expressing himself through a subconscious voice, Safwan has awoken, and so has his protagonist, placing his voice in what seems to be a more life like environment metaphorically. Reality and its inconsistency are mirrored in the canvas through sharper lines and, most importantly, folds and ripples, illustrating life’s obstacles.
Born in 1961 in Hama, Syria, Dahoul was initially trained by leading modernists at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Damascus before travelling to Belgium, where he earned a doctorate from
the Higher Institute of Plastic Arts in Mons. Upon returning to Syria, he began teaching at the Faculty of Fine Arts and was a prominent member of the Damascus art scene. In the span of a decade, Dahoul nurtured a new generation of artists as an active mentor whose evolving aesthetic often ignited new directions in painting. Given the trajectory and status of his painting style, Dahoul’s career is regarded as a crucial link between modern and contemporary Arab art.
Dahoul’s paintings are held in numerous private and public collections, including the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; National Museum, Damascus; The Samawi
Collection, Dubai; The Farjam Collection, Dubai; the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Kuwait. Recently, he has participated in solo and group exhibitions at Ayyam Gallery DIFC and 11 Alserkal Avenue, Dubai (2018, 2017, 2016); Samsung Blue Square and Busan Museum of Art, South Korea (2014); Ayyam Gallery DIFC, Dubai (2014, 2011); Ayyam Gallery Beirut (2014); Ayyam Gallery London (2013); Edge of Arabia, London (2013); and Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (2012)
Founded in 2006, Ayyam Gallery is a leading arts organisation with an art space in Dubai. A series of collaborative projects in the United States, Europe and Asia, alongside a multinational non-profit arts programme, have furthered the gallery’s mandate of expanding the parameters of international art. With its widely respected multilingual publishing division and a custodianship programme that manages the estates of pioneering artists, Ayyam Gallery has also contributed to recent efforts to document underrepresented facets of global art history.