If you look at a drawing, which is that silent poetry, you will find the truth marked for you.
Sheikh Mohammed Abduh (March 18, 1904)
As we reflect on the fifth anniversary of a defining moment in our history, Cairo-based surrealist painter Yasser Rostom sheds light on different aspects of the current geopolitical events. Featuring a new body of work in Doves and Crows, Rostom mixes literalism with symbolism to create layers of meanings and accentuate the ills afflicting the region and the hopes that could salvage the peoples.
To an artist born in 1971, the Arab Spring, a term that inspired hope and change, provides the space to rethink our national identity/identities and ponder on what might come next. Using symbols from his studies in ancient Egyptian art, personified animals, and iconic visuals from neighboring countries, Rostom constructs a witty and surreal socio-political tale in search of answers.
To millions, the defenseless doves are a symbol of peace. On the other hand, the cunning crow is the symbol of the dark and terrible night or the necessary opponent. The dove and the crow, two birds adopted as icons of peace and power, appear on Rostom’s intricate works on paper and reveal his paranoiac-critical method of decoding the present for greater artistic creativity.
In our continued quest for peace and religious tolerance, Yasser Rostom reminds us of the confused state in which hope and despair seem to blur. In honoring one of the founders of Egyptian Surrealism of the 1940s, Rostom stays true to Ramses Younan’s statement that art presents itself as the means to liberate the nation.
Commonly referred to as ‘the Egyptian Dali,’ Rostom creates an invigorating contemporary euphoria with a phantasmagoric atmosphere. A master of pen and ink technique, he draws his whimsical figures in surreal backgrounds to convey subtle or blunt messages. His impressive historical mixture of icons and symbols on paper challenges the mind with a critical view of our world. Combining his Pharaonic roots with themes about myth, power, mankind, and animals make his work powerful, food for thought, and surrealistically unforgettable.