Easam Darawshi | Acts of Sabotage
Curator: Farid Abu Shakra
Easam Darawshi expresses, in his works, a mélange of artistic values drawn from rare if not lost humanistic values along with political ideas and cultural tenets. He integrates graffiti, which operates under different laws and rules from those of the plastic arts, into his work, which is predicated on rules of its own. Thus he constructs a special personal hybrid work of art that is typified by people whose facial features are effaced. The effacement reflects the attempt to deconstruct the “personal” Palestinian identity and nullify the “collective” Palestinian identity, and replace them with an “artificial” one. Darawshi’s deliberate sabotage of his figures’ identities lays down a challenge, expresses an outcry that demands the commemoration of his figures in their viewers’ eyes despite the erasures and the distance that they create. His figures insist that their viewers accept the challenge, preserve the shared culture, create a national identity of continuity, and commemorate the Palestinian memory.
Darawshi’s figures typically flow with precision but also display spontaneous vandalism—an amalgam of Impressionism, Realism, and abstraction amid a gray but raucous atmosphere that spreads a sense of chilliness. At times he reveals pain and hope and at times he conceals them in order to express a complex sociopolitical situation that blends concern and anxiety with an aspiration for liberation and momentum. The figures seem as if trying to free themselves of the shackles that the artist has created with his brush strokes and to rupture the barriers of color that blanket the work amid acts of nullification and erasure.
The sabotaging and erasure of figures clash with Darawshi’s profession as a physical therapist who rehabilitates and heals. These acts, however, offer a potentially meaningful way of understanding reality and identity. This understanding is important not only in constituting the future but also in grasping the present. It is an opportunity to constitute an identity of love, justice, peace, and endeavor in lieu of one that radiates exploitation, fanaticism, and destruction. The danger that may restrain and prolong the suffering is that of inducing the individual to forget. Darawshi documents reality as a holistic set of historical events and practices that are invoked against people everywhere, and in this country in particular, and thus wishes to dispel the forced forgetting of these fateful matters. Repeatedly he erases, conceals, and scratches the accumulated layers of paint, seemingly attempting to excavate and construct but then erasing, nullifying, and destroying again. He continues to wait for the moment of artistic birth that disengages from the traditional styles and conventional techniques to which many artists are captive.
True to his ideas and to the artistic contemplation that he re-creates, Darawshi gives the language of his paintings an existence of its own by way of form, color, and surface. He investigates and analyzes every detail in search of the connection between all the colors and the graffiti and plastic art—the essential tie that binds him to his identity, his inner voice, his art … and the world.