press release

MARWAN. Works on Paper: 1968 - 2014
15.05.2018 - 25.08.2018

feir-Semler Gallery has represented MARWAN (1934-2016) since 1987, the year he had his first solo exhibition at the gallery, then located in Kiel, Germany. Exhibitions at the gallery in Hamburg and Beirut followed as well as presentations at international art fairs, with a major retrospective on the occasion of his 75th birthday shown in Beirut in 2009.

Born in Damascus in 1934, Marwan immigrated to Berlin in 1957. He studied painting at Hochschule der Künste (HdK) from 1957-1963 where he later became a professor. He was influenced both by German Modernism as well as his Arabic cultural heritage. Thus it is not surprising that Marwan has become an equally important representative of German post-war painting as well as of Middle Eastern Modernism. In 2016 he passed away at the age of 82.

While most artists of his generation were fascinated by the cold style of socio-critical realism, Marwan opposed Zeitgeist, and instead merged his Middle Eastern and German influences that re-introduced an emotional level into his paintings. This made him an artistic loner as much as the inventor of “Pathetic figuration”, as Eberhard Rothers describes it in an essay on Marwan’s exhibition at Galerie Springer in 1967.

The current exhibition focuses on Marwan’s watercolours. Where his works in the 1960s, mainly moody faces, show similarities with his contemporaries and friends, his works on paper and canvases from the 70s onward are dominated by the motif of the ‘head’. A virtuous, precise and fast moving painter with an expressive and recognizable handwriting, he masters an equally homogenous look of his ‘heads’ on paper as on canvas.

It is worth taking time to examine Marwan’s work closely: His ‘heads’, even if mostly depictions of the artist himself, are by no means portraits, but spiritual and intellectual landscapes, projections of the human soul.