One Eye Open, One Eye Closed
Rashwan Abdelbaki is a multi-medium artist specializing in painting, etching, engraving, digital art, installation and video. Born in Damascus, Syria in 1984, he graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts of Damascus University, in 2007, with a Bachelor’s degree in printmaking techniques. Since graduating, he has been featured in several solo and group exhibitions in Lebanon and Syria, the UK and the US. Being an organized and methodical artist, he chooses clean unified colors as backgrounds throughout his paintings, the focus is almost always on its main components and their emotions. His art is often about the dual nature of the universe. About a man and a woman (Adam and Eve), this weird construction and combination, this complex creation flooded in problems.
"One Eye Opened, One Eye Closed" was first shown in the US at the George Mason University in October 2017. Abdelbaki’s work emerges in the context of the ongoing Syrian war and the underlying social crises currently being experienced by the citizens of the Middle East. Abdelbaki’s large and mid-sized canvases present rich allegorical studies of human relationships using stark abstracted figures and bold colors in evocative domestic tableaux. A recurring motif in Abdelbaki’s paintings are figures clothed in simple striped garments and depicted with one eye open and the other eye closed.The artist uses the stripes to show how politics and religion constantly group and imprison us: to have us think that we are all different, to divide us according to belief and nationality and color.
The artist is affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria and admits on not being able to easily isolate himself from the war and accept his lack of control on the disorder and calamities. Abdelbaki lives between Damascus, Syria, Beirut, Lebanon and New York, USA
The fear inside all of us that keeps us awake, even when we want to close our eyes and sleep in peace. But in this crazy and complex world, we need to keep one eye open to know what's happening around us to be ready for any shocks or surprises. I believe we all have of living in a state of fear because of politics and religion that strive to group and imprison us. We are constantly being told that we are all different, that we have to be divided according to beliefs, nationality and color. These people are also prisoners of their own beliefs so I paint them with striped garments in empty cells. They cannot see beyond the space of their beliefs. This is the condition of the world. The condition of humanity at present. At the Last Supper, Jesus asked that we both honor and act with humanity. Our response has only been to continue to build walls between ourselves. But I also see light in that darkness, There is hope ... Light up the darkness ...."