These paintings question the dual reality for Syrian refugees: they arrive wrapped in silver foil on the shores of their new country, yet they are nonetheless hidden in plain sight.
My work is concerned with the idea of being visible but invisible at the same time, and questioning what sense of reality this duality produces.
The Syrian refugees are a people who have lost their autonomy and their relevance. The choice of these refugees as subject matter is to try to illustrate the wider state of being on the margins of society, and to create a discussion about the plight of these people, as well as the kind of society that creates this crisis.
So how does it feel to be invisible: to be present and yet unacknowledged? It is this ambiguity that creates the tension in the relationship between the refugees and their new reality. I have sought to deepen this ambiguity by deliberately deconstructing the images of the refugees and replacing them with an impression, a tonal rendering made with a reduced palette, a dissolved version of a composition, and a distorted sense of location, so that the figures metamorphose into the background.
In my paintings I hope is to capture the dual essence of refugees in a static impression on a canvas so as to try to understand the spaces we occupy, and to imagine what kind of reality exists for the refugees (as well as others “on the margins”) living on the edges of our landscape.
I have used these shimmering flimsy coverings because I believe the survival blanket is a dual metaphor; it is offered to refugees, implying a welcome, while at the same time rendering them forgotten and ignored; and, ultimately, invisible.