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Walid Shaharul Explores Visual Contradictions in "SAFE SPACE" Exhibition

Oil paintings featuring figures with distorted facial features.

Brooklyn-based art gallery Synesthesia will soon play host to the first solo exhibition of Indonesian-American artist Walid Shaharul curated by the art collective, roosi. Titled “SAFE SPACE,” the presentation will feature 11 oil paintings and several works on paper. Shaharul is a self-taught painter from Queens, NY whose figurative works portray friends, family members and imagined subjects. Oftentimes, the artist imposes geometric and surreal forms in his compositions to introduce varying moods.

Shaharul’s figures have distorted faces which recall the unsettling imagery of Francis Bacon. However, Shaharul’s original take on the modern master’s tormented visuals arrives in his bright color choice for backdrops that contrasts the ominous expressions of his subjects. “The colors I choose are bright and attractive. Bright colors, in some sense, are meant to bring positive and joyful feelings. But there is a sense of distress in the compositions because the walls, the floors and ceiling are all one color. So instead of those joyful feelings, it feels overwhelming, torturing and exhaustive. A not so safe space,” said Shaharul in a statement.

Across this body of work, Shaharul aims to show “visual contradictions.” His fragmented subjects, which are often depicted in solitude, instill feelings of personal trauma which is juxtaposed by the warm setting and scenery inherent within the compositions. “The figures, some standing and some supine, have distorted facial features to evoke a sense of emotional isolation or imponderable problem. The compositional mystique is only enhanced by the swaths of heavy color-blocking that entraps these figures as they seemingly undergo subtle social shifts that accompany life in a period of crisis,” said roosi.

“SAFE SPACE” will coincide with a series of experimental sound performances at Synesthesia’s rooftop starting November 7. Purchase tickets to attend the exhibition here and visit roosi’s website for more information.

Elsewhere in art, artists have created solar panel artworks to raise funds for over 4,000 Rwanda school children.

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