His aficionados in New York, Los Angeles and Dubai have alternatively compared him with Jean-Michel Basquiat and even Marc Chagall. But while Ramsey Chahine is young and prolific, he proclaims neither allegiance nor debt to a single inspiration. Playful yet often profound, Chahine's paintings express a love of life, as well as a passionate curiosity about the meaning of things. The Levantine Cultural Center's Inside/Outside Gallery is pleased to present THE POISON IS THE CURE, the first major California exhibition of the work of Ramsey Chahine, featuring more than 25 mixed media paintings and sculptures. A reception for the artist takes place on Saturday, February 1, 7-11 pm, and the show will be available daily for viewing, Feb. 1-March 15, 2014.
Ramsey Chahine, a Palestinian American, was born in Redondo Beach, California. He currently works in New York City.
"True art is revelation." —Krishnamurti
"I believe creation is by definition religious; it's the occupation of deities. I like to think my work obeys this definition-that instead of interpreting what already exists, it brings new things into existence.
"Part of the objective of my work is to communicate the value of imagination and the power it has to manifest itself into reality. Today we live in a world where everyday reality seems more elusive. I hope with my work I can encourage my audience to see things for what they are and if not, at least to beckon the question.
"I use symbols, archetypes, and big themes. Symbols are concentrated meaning, each possessing a history in human consciousness that informs what they mean. Through my studies in mysticism and religion I've discovered an endless visual language that I find to be meaningful, polarizing, and, in a base compositional sense, beautiful. Symbols are easily repeatable and largely figurative. For these reasons I have found their use to be precise, efficient, and charged. So too have archetypes, more complex symbols, inspired much of my subject matter. For me, an archetype is at once specific and vast. An anonymous woman, for example, can possess or defy those qualities attributed to all women. She can at once show the tenderness of a mother and the ferocity of a monster.
"I'm inspired by what's inside of me. It's hard to explain. Sometimes I feel like a well that never dries, like a mountain that never moves. However executed, the objective of my creative work is to inspire resolution and bring meaning to the world, ultimately with the hope of igniting social change. In the future I hope to feed every hungry mouth in NYC. At least, start there."
About Inside/Outside Gallery
Addressing a void in the American art world, the Inside/Outside Gallery is one of the few galleries in the United States to specialize in presenting contemporary Arab/Middle Eastern artists. Inside/Outside seeks to challenge orientalist stereotypes by providing the general public with both a physical and online location to view/appreciate art and ideas that are representative of the diversity and evolving cultural identity of the Arab/Muslim world and its growing diaspora. We are particularly interested in cross-cultural collaborations in which artists from diverse communities are paired to examine compelling themes that address some of our most pressing concerns.
About the Levantine Cultural Center:
Founded in 2001, the Levantine Cultural Center is an independent not-for-profit organization that champions a greater understanding of the Middle East and North Africa. The center present arts and education programs that strive to bridge political and religious divides, and produces or co-sponsors artistic programs encouraging cross-cultural and multidisciplinary collaborations between underrepresented communities.