Allow yourself to indulge in applying the clichéd prototype of an artist who is all about the temperament (externally or otherwise) on Aram Chaled Res. Expect the artist’s attitude as well: “I don’t know what you mean when you ask me to define my work and I don’t like schools of art either.” See what I mean? Born in 1965, Aram is a German painter of Syrian descent who lives in France, and like a fitting Parisian artist likes to admit that it is love that guides him to art. “Love to God, to people, to the world and to a woman. Art simply is like entering into a love story.” His work has been exhibited extensively in Europe and America since 1988, and “Aramiyat,” his first solo exhibition in Saudi Arabia, is currently running at Jeddah Atelier. As you walk into the gallery, be prepared to make entry into a world of symbols that hold universal appeal, carrying you into the realm of life portraiture itself. A bicycle with a “flower-power” take on, it greets you, trailing off into a sky-bound ladder, speaking of the travails of man in life and expressed in the simple idea of movement. “As a child, I used to dream of climbing the trees to reach the moon. It was not a desire but an uncontrollable feeling of doing so,” said Aram. Ladders and the third-eye make a constant and repetitive appearance in the entire collection. References to the documentation and continuity of life-movement are galore and expressed through the extensive imitation of primitive Neolithic carvings and symbols. “Everything that I have seen in life is a circle. Each body part for me is a circle. I’d like to explain what each symbol means, but I can’t express it in words and hence I paint. Everyone is entitled to his own interpretation of the symbols,” he said. The collection portrays the most indispensible elements in the universal call of life onto canvas — water, sun, wind and soil — revealing a world of movement, freedom and the beyond. By subtly addressing biological references in the conception of man, the sense of remote eroticism in his work should not be dismissed. One of the paintings in the collection is of profound interest in making an indirect suggestion toward the Talmudic, Biblical and Qur’anic narration of the story of Prophet Jonah (Younus) who was swallowed into a fish’s belly for three nights and three days as retribution for abandoning his call of service in preaching God’s divine message. Although the artist refrained from confirming the painting’s likeness to such a reference, it is difficult not to relate the symbolism especially when you hear him remark: “When I paint, sometimes all I think of are the words of call to Allah and then the paint simply flows…it’s like music. It’s not the words but the expression of it. That is the experience I want the observer to have,” he said. “Many of the prophetic messages are encrypted in my paintings. This is to allow for the participation of the observer into a visual experience without making it obvious, but the message behind it matters,” he revealed. The nurturing and healing attribute of Mother Nature and the entire existence of the world-sphere are contained in the symbols of his paintings, embodying a deep spirituality for one to reflect upon. Yet an equally horrifying surprise element in the exhibition is an ugly, gaping, maimed stick-figure expressing such an intense pain that disturbs the achieved calm the paintings previously offered, reminding man of his twisted dystopian reality. The installation is an artistic satire, a referencing to the ongoing Syrian civil bloodshed. Made from congealed canvas strips that were burned and stripped from the displayed paintings, it sadly marks the loss of beauty and peace that must prevail in the scheme of things. However, hope must be summoned, for man must carry forward “the circle of life…” “Aramiyat” possesses the beauty of birth, life and death in a mood that is nothing but celebratory. — All artworks are for sale between SR3,500 and SR25,000. The exhibition will be running until Feb. 24 at Jeddah Atelier.