"I have always been inspired by the existential contradictions that represent the gap between what we really are and what we wish to be … these little gaps and holes that absorb us piece by piece until entrapping us inside … thus, the overall view of the world starts to dissolve."

ISLAM ZAHER

OUT OF VACCUM

APRIL, 2005

The show was based on three major themes, modeled on the images of: Dogs, human figures, a portrait in a funeral state & the iconic erotic ritual.
These three themes embody visions out of the dark terrain of the human consciousness. That grotesque terrain where the explanations and definitions of the existences and its images have been removed away.
These three themes came out of a personal motive which is my interest in representing images out of our realistic world -as we know it- with explanations and definitions removed that were imposed by different systems which reign this (conscious) world- including the personal opinions of the artist himself – under the commitment of the realistic value of these images itself avoiding the insertion of the Metaphysics atmosphere like Surrealism. Therefore the viewer can meet the artworks in a neutral space void of the commitments of known symbols.
A space where the realistic level ranges from representation, to imitation to description, leaving fields for the viewer to build a real, personal relationship with the artwork, not being guided from related symbols.
Of course I know that such kind of ambition which puts the viewer in a vacuum, that voids the common tools of artworks analyzing –like reading the instructions on the back – may push some to accuse the works of obscurity or the intention of being mysterious. But I think that the intellectual vigor which comes out of this paradox however, was the result in the main ambition of any artwork.

ISLAM ZAHER 2005

INTUITED HAPPINESS

MAY, 2010

It all started when the landlord decided to apply the new rental system to his newly vacant apartments, thus swamping the building with all sorts of new tenants.
There was nothing particularly out of the ordinary, except for the loud voices emanating from her apartment (awful songs, and quarrels sometimes) which was a constant source of the regular tenants’ complaints (namely women).
Whenever I chanced upon her, I didn’t notice anything other than the higab enveloping this plump figure…she was indeed ordinary, but the words of the women of the building about her behavior and her associations with men frequenting her apartment—claiming that her "husband" was among them—these words stripped her veiled presence to the point where she became the coveted object of janitors and workshop boys who, as rumored, intentionally keep their workshops open till late at night in order to have a peek at her returning home…around dawn.
My mother lifted her head while placing her finger over Koran verse that she stopped at and with her other hand took off her glasses and asked me:
- What does "Riklam" mean?
They say that she works at a "Nightclub," but isn’t a "Belly dancer"… what is this "Riklam"?
The dawn call to prayer had just started when I saw her returning, her hurried footsteps devoured by the hungry eyes of workshop boys whose workshops were filled with the sound of late night radios transmitting entangled verses describing the path to happiness in this life and in the afterlife…while she quietly made her way towards the shelter of home…veiled…hunted…drunk… (in most cases).
Islam Zaher 2010

PINK AND LAMENATION

MARCH, 2015

I do not know why the "pink Salamander" comes to my mind when I watch the photos of her engagement party. I was just a child when I first read this strange information about the "Salamander". It seemed so alien to me back then... What is this "Salamander"?! Why is it (pink)?
The informative photo book talked very briefly about the "Salamander". It evolved on land, but at some point -- for no apparent reason -- it decided to go to deep waters and live in the cold darkness. In the deep, the darkness had the last word and thus, the eyes of the poor Salamander were rendered obsolete and subsequently erased without a trace. It grew gills instead of nostrils and delicate fins instead of fingers… Now, adaptability had the last word over the life of the Salamander in the deep!
Her obsession with the details of the dress, which she made with desperate sincerity in preparation for the ceremony launching her to a new life, revealed a rooted suspicion that searched for a lost path to a sick happiness…
The dress was pink and so were the walls of the house. They were as pink as the plastic flowers she held so keenly. Even her head veil was pink. Its pink challenged the pinkness of the dress, which covered her entire existence (with the exception of the face and hands)… Now, pink had the last word!
As the poor Salamander stumbled in its blindness through the humid deep, she strolled in her dress amid this cold darkness of pink with a surrendered pale smile onto her lips.

REMNANTS OF ENCHANTMENT

April-May 2017

For Zaher, “Remnants of Enchantment” started with an imprinted memory of a neglected sculpting studio to which he would escape as a student of painting - where ambition and longing advanced in existential cycles. The nihilistic mood of the space, of unfinished sculpture, dusty props and broken furniture, and certain people who frequented the workshop form the basis for his oil paintings and charcoal drawings. Traces of futile labor and ludicrous desire are rendered in uneven brush strokes and careful layering. Zaher’s bodily motion in the process of painting wrestles to make a socio-psychological state of existence transpire through a medium that is as hard to contain as the ambition it attempts to express.