Contemporary Art Matters is delighted to present Last Light, a solo exhibition of new paintings and works on paper by Los Angeles-based artist Rema Ghuloum. The exhibition will open May 12th and be on view through June 30th, 2022. Ghuloum paints ethereal, atmospheric abstractions that revolve around and evolve through her process. Her painting approach continues in the grand Abstract Expressionist style, with a nod to Eastern philosophies and California optimism. Their carefully worked and layered surfaces demand to be seen in person in order to be fully appreciated; her paintings positively glow and vibrate in ways that photos can not do justice to.
Ghuloum’s canvases start their life on the floor where she pours acrylic paint upon the surface, an approach that evokes traditions like Navajo sand painting and Jackson Pollock’s revolutionary action paintings. She uses the ground to literally create her ground (the first layer of paint artist’s use to prepare their canvas); she treats this poured paint like watercolor using varied strategies and mark making maneuvers to create this ground. Sometimes for Ghuloum this step in her process is quick and immediate, but may be repeated until she is satisfied.
At that point Ghuloum raises her work up onto an easel and slowly and meditatively applies subsequent layers thinly with oil paint, scumbling or glazing layers into the surface. Between each layer she sands her paintings exposing and excavating the history embedded within. She does not rely on sketches or pre-determined endings for her works, they resolve themselves individually. She refers to her works as being experiential and emotive, informed by her everyday experiences. Her goal is to translate the sensations that words cannot truly capture. She seeks to “communicate the contrasts of our human experience visually, viscerally, and psychologically through color, texture, and surface.”
Ghuloum’s drawings follow similar methods to her paintings, she layers marks of color, and then sands them to expose their history- but unlike her paintings her drawings are created in a single sitting. During the Pandemic the immediacy of these works on paper, the act of chronicling and recording moments became important for her. The drawings in the exhibition come from two series: Ether and Sun. The Ether series is a rumination on the transformative experience of motherhood, and the drawings communicate this intimately to the viewer. The Sun drawings revolve on her time of quarantine with her young son. These works are inspired by her child’s drawings, she seeks to capture within them the effortlessness and confidence exhibited in his marks and compositions. These pieces also act as a record of their time together as mother and child engaging in the act of creative expression together.
Rema Ghuloum lives and works in Los Angeles, California. She received her MFA from the California College of the Arts in 2010, and her BFA from California State University Long Beach in 2007. She has been widely exhibited in the U.S. with gallery shows in California, New York, Ohio, Arizona, Missouri, and abroad in Japan, Canada, and Russia. Ghuloum has been the recipient of many grants and residencies including the Davyd Whaley Artist-Teacher Grant, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, Artist in Residence at the Joan Mitchell Center, and the Vermont Studio Center. Ghuloum has been a visiting artist lecturer within the California State University system, the California College of the Arts, and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Her work has been reviewed and featured in articles in Art Forum, Hyperallergic, The LA Times, and others.