Ramsey Chahine is a Lebanese American artist who lives and works in New York City.
His paintings are marked by the relentless pursuit of an ideal with most paintings containing multiple painted-over versions buried below the surface. This layering process creates rich textured surfaces that reflect his interest in human psychology and the layers of the unconscious mind.
A believer that art is a revelatory process, Chahine has a classical view of creativity, seeing it as guided by muses.
His current work with the Self Portrait is an adventure into the depth and range of personality. Chahine believes painting is a useful tool for the expression of internal forces and experiences and should create a personal bond with the viewer. Frequently regarded as a visual road map to the artist's psyche, the self portrait is an opportunity for dedicated introspection, an exceedingly challenging occasion in our rapid-paced technological world.
Chahine finds significance in building upon the visual arts legacy of the Arab World. Through figuration and portraiture he depicts an image by and of the Arab that evades easy categorization, blending movements in art history with an eye for challenging convention and taboo. He works with the dream of connecting the Middle East to the pinnacle of contemporary artistic excellence, with a wide range of technical and stylistic experimentation from realism and surrealism to conceptualism and abstraction. He commonly refers to his approach as Yawm, the Arabic word for "day," a metaphor for the illumination of unconscious forces in the creative process.
As someone who grew up in an age defined by the selfie Chahine feels his work operates as social commentary. With his self portraits Chahine illuminates the underbelly of selfie culture and explores the social and psychological trends of contemporary society. He regards the self portrait as a tool for and symbol of the most fundamental human experience, one that is reflective and self-conscious. In this way he identifies the self portrait as a system which develops the strengths and perceptions of the artist.
Chahine's oeuvre is greatly influenced by works of literature. Many of his paintings utilize symbols and characters to create vivid scenes that draw on literary and mythological themes. At the core of Chahine's work is a conviction that the world is not quite what it seems, that something lurks within us, hidden behind our eyes, that should become manifest in our lifetimes.
Chahine's work is in private and public collections around the world, including the Bunker Art Museum.