Reem Bassous, a Hawai'i-based artist, presents her interrogation of a post-Lebanese Civil War existence, where cultural erasure and assertions oscillate under prolonged political instability. As a survivor of the Lebanese Civil War (1975?1990), Bassous unhinges the memories from her youth and explores the contemporary implications of historic unrest by situating her personal experience in a national trajectory.
Instead of recounting the past in archival detail, Bassous has re-conceptualized the human figure simultaneously as the personification of her generation and as her home city of Beirut, in an effort to describe the shared trauma of a locale and its inhabitants. Like the ghostly figures whose form and features dissolve in her work into the very material of which they are made, Beirut itself bears the scars of conflict, both ancient and recent, having been built and rebuilt over time—a history that informs the artist’s painting process.
Bassous renders the ways in which political crisis is internalized through the use of thick layers of acrylic that blur the distinction between interior and exterior settings; patches of sky and architectural motifs disrupt otherwise domestic environments. The work echoes the disillusionment caused by recurrent upheaval, and it underscores the artist’s desire to interpret history as a way of stabilizing the present.