Playing with light and shadow, the Syrian artist Safwan Dahoul creates monochromatic compositions that are metaphors for the darkness that has enveloped the Syrian state. The present composition is a portrait of a young woman sleeping at a table; while she rests her head against the table top, her eyes are closed and her arms are stretched out across the table. Her long thin arms have pushed off the soft tablecloth, thus revealing the cold surface upon which she rests. The scene depicted is an intimate one as the woman is casually dressed and asleep; the viewer is observing her in her most vulnerable state, yet the painting evokes a sense of calmness and stillness. The woman depicted is seated next to an empty chair, a symbol for the patience of the Syrian people and their long awaited freedom. Her eyes shut, the woman's face elicits a sense of hope and promise - as though she will only awaken from the long dark night after her country achieves peace. By extracting colour and reducing his palette into dual tones, Dahoul adds a timeless appeal to the image and furthermore, it transcends reality and translates an image into a realm that is neither abstract nor real. By doing so, the artist deconstructs a scene and reduces it to its forms and tones, encouraging the viewer to engage with the work and raise questions about its content and context.
Filled with symbolism and references to his own life and personal tragedies - having lost his beloved wife tragically - Dahoul's works reflect upon the fragility of life and all factions of human conditions and experiences. The present work is a particularly charming example from the artist's oeuvre.