Looking at the collection of Nassim al Amin's newest paintings just now hung in my living room gallery, I imagine how people will react to them Saturday at the opening.
Nassim, part Egyptian, part Syrian, used to live in Eritrea but now lives in the building next to mine and has been here before, even painting a mural on my walls that was delightful, surprising, and funny. I was bowled over when I saw his new work a couple weeks ago and made space for him to exhibit it here on the spur-of-the-moment.
The canvasses all burst with color and all are comprised of tiny dots of paint that Nassim applies with a Q-tip. The undulating lines of color dots make for a trippy experience and certainly the paintings that are like mandalas are very meditative indeed.
There are also his usual cast of comic-looking characters, usually blonde, with a dark history of corruption, greed, and all the perks that capitalism brings: a gradual, killing restriction of freedom. A blonde girl jauntily leads two dogs on a leash. "Oh, a girl walking her dogs," I comment. "Grace," he said, "In Africa, the dogs have nothing to eat. No one has anything to eat. But they run around, they play with the children. Here, dogs have plenty to eat. But the only time they go outdoors is to make pipi and caca. They have no freedom."
And that theme runs through his paintings here and is the name we gave to his show. The pen might be mightier than the sword,but watch out for an artist who wields a wild Q-tip.
Shown: detail of painting from the "Freedom series" by Nassim al Amin.
Photo: Nick Kent.