Dulwich Picture Gallery presents a new body of work by the renowned artist Sara Shamma. For this display, Shamma responds to the Gallery’s historic collection with a focus on paintings of women. Shamma's new works channel the spirits of these female figures while also connecting them to episodes from her own life, retelling their stories for contemporary viewers.
Each of Shamma’s paintings presents a powerful and thought-provoking interpretation of works by artists including Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Lely, Anthony van Dyck and Peter Paul Rubens. Shamma explores identity, death, motherhood and unexpected beauty in works that demonstrate her technical expertise as an artist, as well as her long-standing appreciation of the Old Masters.
Shamma is interested in the creative possibilities of paint, and her works often contrast hyper-realistic detail with thick bands of richly-textured colour. Her practice explores themes of humanity and emotional connection, and images of her children, her family and self-portraits often feature in her work.
Shamma grew up in Syria and was introduced to the Old Masters through a print reproduction of a Rembrandt in her parents’ home. At the age of 14, she joined the Adham Ismail Fine Arts Institute before going on to study at Damascus University. At both institutions, she developed her technique by copying the Old Masters, creating works that she subsequently sold. Despite being exceptionally well versed in the Old Masters, Bold Spirits is the first time Shamma has directly responded to a collection of historic European paintings.
Bold Spirits is part of Unlocking Paintings, a series of displays that presents new perspectives on the Gallery’s collection, inviting contemporary artists and thinkers to reinterpret historic themes. The display is curated by Helen Hillyard, curator at Dulwich Picture Gallery.
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All images are supplied by the exhibition organiser.
This exhibition runs from Sat, 9th Sep 2023 to Sun, 25th Feb 2024
This event runs over several days/weeks. Dates include: