Karim Hamid’s images are based on the visual dialogue with the classic representation of the female figure and the male gaze throughout art history. Hamid’s work updates the visualization of the idealized female form through the distortion and transformation of the human body. Karim Hamid’s paintings function as a psychic response to an unconvincing onslaught of media superficiality and the pervasive objectification of the female form in art history. The goal of his paintings seems to be to distort and exaggerate this emphasis on an idealized form. In his paintings he is focused mostly on the psychic condition of the person observed, something not readily available to the conditioned eye. In his portraits, or anonymous found imagery, he expects the same thing – to find something broader in the meaning and composure. “While the imagery is often distorted or exaggerated in my work, I also expect my work to express itself within its own polemical and painterly distortion of that distortion. It is about the thing/person being observed, as well as the method of being observed.”
Looking More Deeply at KARIM HAMID’s Paintings
We live in a world of great things. We think about great things. We take in the ‘BIG’ picture. We often want the world in simpler terms. But, as many artists know, the world is full of smaller details. And, it is in the bigger picture that we often forget the details, often to our own peril. In the paintings by Karim Hamid, attention to the finer points becomes everything. It could be an eye, an ear, or a nose (or two). Even the way one stroke of paint moves over another, a pencil mark cuts into the composition,
or a section is simply and completely rubbed out. All of these things play their equal part and are just as important in the language of an overall theme. Detail becomes everything in Hamid’s work and everything makes its mark of importance.
Hamid wants you to take a second look. His paintings invite the viewer to seek out details not just for their own sake, but because they offer something that reveals the whole. Spread out through his somewhat disparate series such as fa.fn, annunitare, intersomnia, girls gone wild, and his varied portraits, there is always a singular thread in each that unites them. It is this adherence to a kind of revealing detail.
Perhaps it is a certain debt to his fellow painters from earlier periods that drives Hamid to produce paintings that provide a type of reward to viewers when they return each time to a piece he has produced. He is not seemingly concerned with the one-off joke or easy commentary. Certainly this seems something that is important to the artist. He speaks at length about trying to reward the viewer – about providing a quality that encourages a paint-lover’s ideal. Here is an artist that revels in paint.
At first glance, it might seem that to look is not enough. Hamid is interested in challenging his viewer to look at something deeply - to strip away at something until an inner essence is revealed, almost by accident. In this regard, he derives his language from a rich source of previous painters. It would be no surprise to learn that many of these artists are Post War British, either. Comparisons are easily made with Francis Bacon for sure. But, others suggest Alice Neel, Frank Auerbach, De Kooning and Freud, just to name a few.