Diaspora : Art Sawa Gallery, DIFC, Dubai, UAE
The paintings on show as part of Diaspora atArt Sawa Gallery (Dubai 2014) possessed a special resonance and are perhaps some of the most powerful works Shamma has created. The body of work for this exhibition consisted of twelve paintings; created between Damascus, Syria and Amioun, Lebanon, of subjects who have fled their homeland (Syria) in search of a better life. An underlying and powerful sense of anxiety pervades Shamma’s work, which is most powerful when viewed as a group. She adds a nightmarish quality to otherwise realistic portraits of subjects including her children, with bold swirls and distorted passages. In their construction and use of narrative, the paintings call to mind the works of Goya and Delacroix and particularly Fuseli with his celebrated painting The Nightmare. There is also a connection to the great ‘masters of war’ artists and history paintings such as Delacroix’s The Massacres at Chios, but here there is a major difference - The noted Art Historian Edward Lucie Smith comments Sara Shamma ‘has also had the courage to react to and comment upon what is happening now, particularly the tragedy now unfolding in her native Syria. Her recent paintings are not in any way journalistic, but they resonate with the tragedy of the current situation in her country.’ Shamma’s influences go far beyond both the current political situation and the tradition of western painting however. Taking influences from both Latin American art and the Sufi tradition of the Whirling Dervishes, evoked in the swirling movement and distortion found in many of the works in Diaspora.
Sara Shamma, Diaspora 2014October 2014