Egyptian-born visual artist Hossam Dirar (1978) celebrates beauty. Combining fragmented images of faces, at times of the whole body, Dirar paints chaotic, impulsive and richly multi-layered texturized palettes to express individual identity. Selected as one of the twelve emerging artists of great promise from around the world by Saatchi chief curator in their series ‘Invest in Art’ in 2013, Dirar resuscitates the two-thousand year old art of the Egyptian Fayoum portraits. And while the Fayoum portraits were created to preserve the memory of each individual in the closest way possible, Dirar’s portraits are invented identities, borrowed from an instantaneous stolen glance. Each work depicts an anonymous woman Dirar met – at a café, in a street, at an airport. He conceives his work as a re-interpretation of his memory, of that brief encounter, overlapping between the multi-cultural characters of where they met and his personal take of that instant of visual pleasure.

Internationally-acclaimed Sabhan Adam obsessively explores the overwhelming pains of the world and depicts the harsh reality of living in its most stirring animism. Partially human, partially beast, his stunning creatures, possessed with human anguish, are rich in primal brutality. The truth is a harsh one for humanity as a whole and Adam is convinced there is no sense in attempting to soften the blow. “When there is so much pain inside you and around you, it is impossible to just draw flowers and birds.” Instead Adam paints male figures, endlessly, hauntingly and rebelliously to challenge societies’ superficial notions of beauty and to undress human weaknesses such as vanity and denial. Grabbing us by the throat, each figure captivates, appeals, monopolizes the mind. At times, their faces are tormented with pain, reminding us of Adam’s agonizing circumstances back home and in our region at large. Other times, the figures are confident, cynical, upbeat, almost arrogant.

ArtTalks is pleased to announce the duo exhibition of Sabhan Adam | Hossam Dirar: Beauty and The Beast, their first exhibition at the Gallery. Syrian-born artist Sabhan Adam (1973) and Egyptian-born artist Hossam Dirar (1978) challenge universal notions of beauty and ugliness, through the art of portraiture. Each artist presents his perception of individuality by seeking to bring out whatever is common with the rest of humanity. For Sabhan Adam, it is ugly. For Hossam Dirar, it is beauty.