“Psychic archaeology” is the expression Karim Hamid uses to describe his paintings, alluring deviations from conventional portraiture in which the artist strips away at his subject matter to reveal their enduring inner essence.
Now based in Rhode Island, Hamid was born in Los Angeles to an English mother and Palestinian father. He earned a BFA from Brighton University, UK, before completing an MFA at San Francisco Art Institute in 1994. Since then, his work has appeared in numerous group exhibitions and over 15 solo shows in the UK, USA and Switzerland. In 2012 he was selected for the Spear’s Young Masters Art Prize, and his paintings appear in private collections worldwide.
The influence of British painters such as Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, and Francis Bacon is clear in Hamid’s artwork, though he has successfully developed a distinct and skilful visual language of his own. Centring on the pervasive objectification of the female form, Hamid preys on our voyeuristic instinct, often with scenes of public nudity or amateur porn. His aim, however, is not to titillate but to extend the very act of viewing.
Startling disjunctions of perspective and proportion, blurring, erasures and pencil lines suggest that the artist is exploring how far he can push abstraction without losing his original subject matter. The result invokes a different, more physical sort of memory: the way someone sits, laughs or smells. In short, portrayals of what is normally felt rather than seen.