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Safwan Dahoul (Syrian, b. 1961)
Safwan Dahoul (Syrian, b. 1961)


Safwan Dahoul (Syrian, b. 1961)
signed in Arabic, signed and dated 'DAHOUL 93' (lower left)
acrylic and gold leaf on panel
31 x 21¾in. (78.7 x 55.5cm.)
Executed in 1993
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
Ayyam Gallery (ed.), ISafwan Dahoul, Damascus 2009 (illustrated in colour, p. 85).

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Lot Essay

The theme of a lonely female figure within a secluded surrounding is something that celebrated painter Safwan Dahoul explored in his early paintings. Christie's is delighted to be offering two enchanting works from this stage in the artist's oeuvre which depict a young woman, dressed in a simple flower robe, gazing out of a Damascene window. Such a ritual is embodied in the culture of young Middle Eastern girls, who are often confined within the walls of their homes, longing for a new horizon and for freedom. They are set free, so to speak, when they move away from their parental protection once they are married. As such, these young ladies dream longingly for their prince charming who will rescue them and sweep them off into their fantastical dream world.
The window, as well as all the doors, walls and lines are key characteristics of Dahoul's oeuvre found in most of his works. He uses them to shape the darker light and space of the painted interior. Dahoul goes even further so as to introduce a veritable equivalence between window and canvas that plays on the Renaissance notion of a painting as a view from the window or through a window. In many ways, the thin black contour, illustrated feel and monochromatic tones are reminiscent of Pablo Picasso's work from the Blue period.
In the first of these captivating works, the square glass panes link the near and far interior and exterior while the crescent of the moon is reflected as if it is already inside the room shining brightly, as if foreseeing a potential new beginning. The female's eyes, downcast in their sadness, emanate an overwhelming sense of sadness, the string dangling from her hand as if the memory or remnant of something lost or left behind. Although the blue tones exemplify this melancholia, the golden touch on the window frame offers a sense of hope and in doing so radiates with a kind of holiness; the figure becomes saintly in her ability to bear the cruelty of a harsh reality outside her window.
In the second composition, the window has detached itself from the wooden structure, there are clouds passing by and thus a sense of freedom is depicted. Although the artist's palette is similar, the viewer gets a sense that the girl is unwilling to accept what lies before her and in her defiance appears to be less unhappy. Yet, with her back on life, the heroine is in fact blinded, as she attempts to gain stability, she is unable to see what could possibly lie ahead.

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