The duo show entitled “Befindlichkeiten مزاج ” deals with the emotional state of individuals as well as of different societies. Nabil Saouabi and Thaer Maarouf work in a multidisciplinary manner, but both show a striking affinity to figurative painting.
Every year, philomena+ generates the Project Statement at the Parallel Vienna in collaboration with artists from the MENA region and representatives from the Viennese art scene. This year’s duo show, entitled “Befindlichkeiten مزاج”, deals with the emotional state of individuals as well as of different societies. Nabil Saouabi (from Tunis, presently artist-in-residence at philomena+) examines the impact of the image on the human psyche in the fluent transition between reality and fiction. He makes use of different image sources, such as the internet or classical films. Painterly reinterpreted, they allow current socio-political conclusions. Thaer Maarouf, who was born the same year as Nabil Saouabi, is from Syria. Since 2015 he lives and works in Austria. He is known for his use of symbolism, which focuses on human rights issues in the Middle East and the living conditions of displaced peoples. Currently, it is above all the self-portrait that serves him as a transporter for questions about existence and state of mind. The two artists share the affinity with figurative painting.
A photograph depicting the execution of former Liberian President Samuel Doe by militia men served as a compositional template for Nabil Saouabi’s new painting “Boomerang”, oil on canvas, 180 x 150 cm. The artist frees the scene from its original context by introducing a black background. As in many works before he removes and adds ad libitum. Here it is above all the meticulously painted colorful parrots, through which he expands the shameful scene of violence with a frolic symbolic component. Furthermore, the artist shows small-format images from the earlier series “Le Temps Scellé”, which refer directly to film classics such as “Stalker”, “Nostalghia” or “The Sacrifice”.
In the painting “Parallelwelten”, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 160 x 140 cm, Thaer Maarouf points to the complexity of our increasingly digitized life. While allowing coexistences in several universes, digitalisation at the same time triggers longings for simplicity, attachment to nature or childlike lightheartedness.Two other paintings are presented by him in the entrance area of the exhibition space: the larger-than-life portrait of “Nicole” sitting uncomfortably on a chair touches the passer-by due to its captivating urgency while the third canvas includes a small video and mocks the US-president.