The assault of war is one that continues to impose itself. War survivors live in a perpetual state of panic, as news of distant wars fuse with existing memories and create a new present reality. Having survived one such war (Lebanese civil war 1975-1990) I find myself stuck in a loop, with the story playing on repeat. The self is often lost in the larger narrative of country and national survival. A personal grappling with identity then becomes necessary as politics are navigated and analyzed. Death always looms, not as a distant occurrence but as one that waits around the corner. This forces a dialogue with the unknown, as a way to connect to those who have departed and also as a way to understand the infinite. The physical material of paint becomes an important role player in delivering the assault that shapes figures in their mysterious habitats. These creatures adopt the title of Moribund, and traverse between life and its aftermath. The canvas is often intentionally unstretched, allowing for the work to be rolled up and carried, much like a nomad navigating the afterlife (or a refugee in the present) may roll a blanket for travel. The role of instinct allows for paint to be used in conjunction with other materials that often include gun powder, a constant reminder of the danger at bay.
Reem Bassous is a Lebanese-American artist raised in Athens, Greece until she was four years old due to the Lebanese civil war. Later, Reem Bassous received her Bachelor of Arts from The Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon and her Master of Fine Arts from The George Washington University in Washington DC. She is an instructor at Leeward Community College and was a lecturer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa for 9 years. Her paintings and drawing installations have been featured in international exhibitions including the Millais Gallery in Southampton and the Brunei Gallery in London, England; and the RamsayOng Gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Bassous’s regional and national exhibitions include shows at the Honolulu Museum of Art, Hawaii, The Meadows Museum, Louisiana, and the Washington Studio School Gallery, in Washington DC, WhiteBox Gallery, and the Painting Center in New York City. She is the recipient of the Glassman Award, the Langenkamp Award in Abstract Painting, the John Young award, and was the winner of the 2013 Kafiye Project Competition at Kaflab, New York City.
Much of the artist’s work deals with her memories of the Lebanese Civil War and its aftereffects. Memory for Forgetfulness, in the collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art, shows the destruction caused by this conflict.