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The Human Condition

Sanam Khatibi, the Iranian born artist who is based in Brussels, puts a contemporary spin on surrealism and the uncanny in her paintings. 

At first glance, her paintings take you on a journey through art history. It appears you are looking at a medieval Belgian tapestry with its natural scenes, creatures, and muted colors. They then fast forward to also pay tribute to the classics with some figures mimicking famous lounging nudes such as Titian’s or Botticelli’s Venus. 

Yet there are many modern elements to her work such as broad contrasting planes of color, expressive brush strokes, and a feeling that things are not quite right. 

All the sudden you become aware of the gore and chaos amongst the barren landscapes and start to feel the conflict in the paintings. Animals are dead, and the scenes look stormy. The uneasiness keeps going with the almost faceless figures who are sometimes fighting, sometimes inviting the viewer to look at them, and even sometimes upside-down. 

The paintings use these nonsensical images and known symbols such as the female nude to tell a story of primitive urges of lust, survival and power.

Khatibi’s paintings play with different dynamics of familiar versus strange, detailed versus vague, and human versus animal. As you navigate through Khatibi’s pieces, step further into the discomfort and explore the human condition for yourself!

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