Splash of colors, abstract illustrations loaded with history and meaning, the works of Areen Hassan, a Palestinian artist-designer based in Dubai, revisit the codes of historic and contemporary Arab art blending them into our everyday modern lifestyle.
Painting, printing, embroidering, stitching or rather unstitching, each piece created by Areen is a medley of a variety of techniques. She uses textile as a powerful medium to reflect cultural identity and revisit our heritage in a functional way. Areen tells us she crafts textiles, they become a harmonious convergence of materials, colors, shapes and patterns imagined into every day pieces; Abayas, rugs and objects in between. The artist uses a panoply of manual methods to create her work. Among her palette Areen chose silkscreen printing, a technique that uses heat, because ever since she was younger, she’s loved colors, their fusion and manipulation ‘colors are a powerful tool that can convey ideas and leave a deeper impact on the psyche.’ The technique allows her to play around, blend and form new shades; peaches, purples, popping reds or soft beiges, that express the concepts she imagines for her art. She introduces us to ‘unravelling’, a technique she discovered through her research and artistic journey; stitching the threads one by one in a reverse process; while preserving the distinct features of each thread and color, the layers of fabric are revealed, ‘imperfections possess their own beauty.’ Hand embroidery is another technique close to Areen’s heart, as it embodies her Palestinian culture. Since her childhood, she dreamed of becoming an artist and designer. Her pieces are an ode to these traditional embroideries, fabrics, colors and sewing techniques from the Levant. She highlights the vitality of Arab Art, as a living art integrating it into modernity. Areen also does not hesitate to play with new technologies and multimedia, experimenting with the idea of transparency and reversing the function of a material.
With culture and religion as sources of inspiration, we are invited to observe the symbolic meaning of each piece, which often leads us to ponder the path we take in our lives. Her recent work, ‘The Portrayal of Paradise, ‘an ethereal realm or euphoric/ecstatic state that crosses the boundaries of cultures and religions’ is inspired from the ‘Islamic Garden/Jannah’, the religious belief in Heaven as a lush, green garden. Calligraphic, geometric and floral motifs imagined into repetitive, symmetrical, abstract shapes, the carpet design offers a visual impression of continuity and immortality. ‘Its exceptionally exaggerated size echoes a Kantian sublime, disrupted with imperfectly detached threads. The scale of the piece offers an introspective experience, a symbolic embodiment of a universe within itself.’‘The belief, which dictates that the path to paradise is determined by our actions in this life, is not unique to Muslim cultures, and can be found across cultures, especially those considered Abrahamic.’ With her work bringing together a mix of techniques and references that can be found across cultures and leave way for interpretation, Areen also carries a message of tolerance. 'From Carpet to Abaya' a piece that blends Areen’s different techniques reflects the essence of the Islamic garden but also serves as a representation of its distinctive characteristics; ‘the amalgamation of diverse materials, vibrant colors, captivating shapes, deliberate orientations, and mesmerizing patterns within this composition creates an immersive experience for the viewer.’ The merging of vibrant colors, calligraphies, flora, Islamic motifs, materials, printing, painting and unraveled stitches, urges us to contemplate the piece, look into it in search for symbols that shaped our journey. Areen’s artworks have traveled to international exhibits, in New York, Munich, Dubai or Manama, preserving a millennial culture, bringing together different threads of history and stitching them into contemporary culture.