Curated by Sergio Gomez and Didi Menendez Zhou B Art Center August 18, 2017 Writing by Lorena Kloosterboer
Alia El Bermani
Artist, teacher, and independent curator Alia El-Bermani paints the human figure as well as occasional still lifes and naturescapes. Her noteworthy figure paintings, expressed in an understated color palette and loose, flowing brushstrokes, present thought-provoking narratives in which the psychological depth of her subject is key. El-Bermani seeks to persuade the viewer to interpret the veiled meaning behind the visual narrative in order to discover an empathic connection with her subject matter.
El-Bermani’s painting entitled Hear Me is meant to hit the viewer over the head. A slender young African American woman with clenched eyes, tilted head, and the word “roar” shaved into her side hairs seems to scream—perhaps in anger, pain, or simply in feral frustration. The decorative background, delicately patterned yet nondescript, symbolizes the way in which western art often depicts women; as mere decorative, submissive, and silent objects of beauty. The jacquard brocade fabric represents oppression—creased, gradually unravelling at its edges, obviously past its useful prime. The intentionally strident contrast between the ‘pretty’ background and the unruly woman says it all, and even though the painting emits no sound it speaks volumes about the way in which women today are breaking free from the shackles of sociocultural norms regarding beauty standards and appropriate feminine behavior.