Exhibition: Please Don’t Wake Up, The Mall Galleries, London, January 30 – February 5 2011
Alexandre Khawam is a Paris-born, Beirut-raised young artist who studied finance at the London School of Economics and describes himself as an economist by profession.
His art, he says, gives him “an outlet in which to express his true emotions”, listing his key influences as Ruscha, Pollock, Newton, Argentini and Basquiat, so it’s no surprise to see his methodology of choice taking an unconventional route.
Khawam makes large-scale canvasses of scrawled words and screaming figures, using broad brush strokes and swirls to express his own frustrations with the superficiality of culture.
He paints on the reverse side of the canvas, working on wooden frames whose supports he sees as a window into his world, and claims a thrill for the “psychology of reversal”, opening up his inner workings for the enlightenment of the viewer.
The titles have names like Don’t Worry – where a ghostly white face with alien red eyes is framed behind bars – and Nobody Understands, showing the torso of a lonely figure silhouetted against a window to the city beneath him, as red and black splodges splatter the foreground. In The Monalousias, a head gapes upwards in a work produced in x-ray blue, toxic green, black and red.
His aim ultimately comes across as playful and contemplative, pondering the “glamorous flaws” Khawam sees beneath the surface of society.