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Details
Safwan Dahoul (Syrian, b. 1961)
Rêve (Dream)
signed and titled in Arabic, signed, titled and dated 'DAHOUL Rêve 2005' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
57 x 47¼in. (145 x 120cm.)
Painted in 2005
Provenance
Ayyam Gallery, Dubai.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Literature
Ayyam Gallery (ed.), Safwan Dahoul, Damascus 2009 (iilustrated in colour, p. 246).

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Bibi Naz Zavich

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Lot Essay


Rêve or Dream is the only title used by Syrian artist Safwan Dahoul for all his paintings. It was not until the untimely passing of his wife Nawal that Dahoul numbered his paintings and as such since he began the series, each one of his canvases is prompted by its predecessor, whilst simultaneously informs the next as each one carries an individual narrative. Dahoul's minimalist palette and his signature treatment of the use of the monochrome, positive and negative, full and empty, depict a world where apparitions and ambiguity dominate since he abandoned colour in the 1990s.
In Rêve from 2004, the female figure in this painting appears to be in a state of transience as the title suggests. She is immersed in solitude and dominates the composition, therefore leaving marginal space for movement which constitutes another characteristic of Dahoul's signature style. This painting captures many of Dahoul's recurring themes of loneliness, scale, space, dreams, reality, freedom and captivation. She sits upon a chest of drawers that in turn reveals the same figure multiplied infinitely in diminishing scale, a play on perceptions of reality and state of being.
Dahoul salutes the classical way of painting a seated model which directly analyses her status, but Dahoul's figure conveys a completely different emotion than those often depicted in the Classical style. His figure assumes a sculptural quality; her stone-like skin haunting in its exposure, her face, as if separate from her body bows down above her right shoulder. Her almond-shaped eyes are cast downward and appear dark and empty of light like black holes that drag the viewer into the unknown, much like the black vacuous expanse that surrounds the figure. The artist's most haunting moments occur when his figure's eyes are hollowed. In this sense, her large and vacant eyes, coupled with her grey and cold skin, emanate a sense of ghostly existence, the repeated composition implying a sense of never-ending eternity.
Striking, powerful and overwhelming in both composition and use of colour and geometric line, Rêve is one of the strongest works from the artist to come to auction.
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