Rema Ghuloum

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Press Release/Statement

LAUNCH LA is proud to present Before Arriving by Daniela Campins and Rema Ghuloum. Though featuring work by two artists with divergent perspectives and backgrounds, this exhibition finds unity in its exploration of abstraction. The resulting artworks are a testament to its power to express the otherwise inexplicable.

Campins focuses on the invisible forces and occurrences that drive our universe, morphing them into things we can see and feel. Concepts like gravity, buoyancy, pulling and dissolution feature prominently in her work, distilled into their purest, non-representational essences. Sometimes her paintings are more clearly influenced by reality, imitating instances like a rain shower, or the tug of gravity on an individual water drop. In Campins’ hands, paint and ink become protagonists rather than inert tools of expression: each daub of viscous paint or drip of diluted ink has its own message and tone to impart. These elements connect, blend and clash on the negative space of blank canvas, creating clear and expressive pieces of art in the process.

Daily walks to the studio play an integral part in Ghuloum’s artistic process. The sights that Ghuloum observes on her outings along with those in her studio translate into her paintings and sculptures. These inspirations vary – from the color of road markings to the shapes cast by shadows or intensity of sunlight filtering through a fence. Out of all of these things however, walls are of particular interest to Ghuloum – both as physical and psychological entities. Like her canvases, they are neutral spaces, ripe to bear the marks of human experience. They represent boundaries, barriers and the point where spaces converge.

Ghuloum’s recent work draws inspiration from the still life paintings of Giorgio Morandi. However, rather than using familiar household objects, Ghuloum arranges her sculptures into still life scenes and then paints impressions utilizing direct examination and memory. This process allows her to explore the nuances of observation and to recall that sense of existing both in the present and the past.

Before Arriving is art that engages the audience’s perspectives and imagination. The journey from real-world inspiration to finished painting allows many interpretations. Most of all, Before Arriving’s allure lies in what it reveals of the women who create it, the objects that inspire them and the personalities that transform observation into art.

Rema Ghuloum received her BFA in Drawing and Painting from California State University, Long Beach in 2007 and her MFA from California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 2010. Rema was a recipient of the Esalen Pacifica Prize in 2012, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 2010, Max L. Gatov Award in 2007, and the CSULB Merit award in 2007. Rema has exhibited nationally and internationally at venues like the Cue Foundation, UCLA’s New Wight Gallery, George Lawson Gallery, Triple Base Gallery, den Contemporary, UCSB’s Gallery 479, UC Berkeley’s Worth Ryder Gallery, CSULB University Art Museum, West LA College, and Arka Gallery in Vladivostok, Russia. Rema currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

ARTIST STATEMENT

My painting practice shows a system based on looking, walking, time, the function of memory, mimesis, and how these ideas relate to the tradition of painting. The everyday experience of noticing informs my process of making. I have created strategies out of the act of recalling observations from quotidian experiences, from paintings and sculptures that I have made, and from modern and contemporary paintings that I have seen. The non-linearity of the subject matter often intersects and creates unexpected outcomes. Color and material constraints control this process and arriving at a painting or sculpture is as important as the finished product. These observations and recollections are transformed into a visual language that creates subsequent work.

I try to convey both human experience and the function of memory through my practice. When considering the function of memory, I am thinking about the illusion of memory in particular. The mind often recalls experiences differently from the original occurrence. The proposition that we only know what we remember, interests me. I often contemplate how the mind collects and stores data without conscious knowledge of doing so and its resulting affect on one’s memory. Due to the nonlinearity of the act of recalling – involuntary memory, one has the ability to exist in both the past and the present simultaneously. I attempt to describe different forms of visual experience in my work – from a singular moment of clarity to a blend of moments of transformation. I respond directly to my external and internal environment, which in most cases is reflective of my studio and its surroundings. My work fluctuates between two and three dimensions. I identify as a painter and approach my sculptures/ constructions in the same way that I would a painting. I do feel I have less control when producing sculpture and often begin without any tangible reference point, which allows for a certain vulnerability to enter the work. By utilizing works that I have generated as source material and representing them in multiple ways by working through different painting traditions, I begin to know and therefore remember them. This process allows for these works to then inform future paintings and sculptures. When trying to depict the function of memory formally, I try to create discordance through color, form, and space within individual compositions and/ or through a suite of multiple works.

Recently, I have been drawing inspiration from walls/edges (psychological and physical) and Giorgio Morandi’s still life paintings. I have been considering walls/edges as points in which spaces meet, and/ or are concealed, separated, unified with one another in a painting. The forms represented in the paintings are previous pieces that I have made – sculptures and paintings that I have arranged in my studio and directly observed and painted as still life. Like Giorgio Morandi, I utilize/ arrange/ re-arrange still lifes as a way to create spaces that transport one away from the objects being depicted and rather allow for familiar associations within the work. Approaching the still life in the tradition of Morandi, with a focus on light, I gain a temporal understanding of the forms at a micro level. This close observation gives me a deeper grasp of the objects. I then respond to these works with mish-mash companion paintings. In these works, I employ more liberties, basing them on pieces of observations that are more broadly focused, yet still integrating interpretations of walls and emphasizing edges.

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