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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Mohammad Tamimi

Mohammad Tamimi

One cannot fully understand oneself without delving into “the other”, that elusive aspect of the identity, the other side of the coin that artist Mohammad Tamimi attempts to uncover in his first solo exhibition “The Other”.

In works of acrylic on canvas on display at Zara Gallery, the young Jordanian artist personalises “the other” in an attempt to familiarise the unfamiliar.

The results are images of welcoming, yet foreboding, figures, with features distorted but still somewhat recognisable.

“There is a sense of otherworldliness in these figures. There is also something childish about them,” Tamimi told The Jordan Times.

In some paintings, the figures are seemingly posing for their portraits, staring at the viewer in an almost confrontational manner.

“It’s as if they’re trying to establish their presence. There’s also a hint of theatricality about them,” said the artist, who has recently completed a bachelor’s degree in graphic design.

“The other is distant, yet intimate at the same time. I have to know the other to know myself,” he added.

Although dark colours dominate most of his artworks, the figures, with their oversized noses, narrow eyes and genderless features, do not convey a sense of gloominess.

Instead, a strange sense of humour is present in Tamimi’s work.

In one painting, six figures, seemingly of varying ages, are posing for a group photo, with one holding a chicken and another wearing his headphones. Most of them are dressed in bright colours.

“I don’t see them as dark. It’s as if they’re planning to go to the circus,” the artist said, adding that the chicken adds a “rural, Oriental” element to the painting, juxtaposed with the modern headphones.

In another piece, which is dominated by a bright olive-green colour, one figure sits on the other’s shoulders while balancing a bottle on his head.

“The other” is also seeking attention, wanting to know as much about the self as it delves deeper into the question of identity.

“There are many questions and much curiosity; it’s all part of the discovery process,” said Tamimi, who added that he is influenced by German Expressionists.

Several works depict the figures as part of a family portrait, implying perhaps that the other may have many faces, but loneliness and fear are also present.

One boy stands in the centre of a circle surrounded by balloons but no other being. A hand is seen reaching to nudge him. It is not clear if the hand is benevolent or malevolent, or if the boy is aware of its presence.

Despite the bright balloons and his colourful clothes, the boy is engulfed in a darkness that threatens to consume everything.

In another work, a little boy clings to another, older, perhaps in fear of some knowledge that is soon to be revealed.

Similar images are repeated in other paintings, showing the mutual fears between the self and the other — both are curious to know the other side, but fear what they do not know at the same time.

“The other is always mysterious; we cannot claim to know all that is buried deep in our minds.”

Tamimi’s works are on display until June 24.


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