Reading Between The Lines

The poignancy of Karam Natour’s digital drawings.

Eye My Bull, May 2017

Drawing gives Karam Natour the chance to be intimate with himself, to create something at 3 AM, if he feels he must. In the beginning of Natour’s career, drawing was, as the artist describes an “artistic-creative-orgasmic-experience, free from restraints or questions”, a welcome respite from his video production work. The thin lines are surprisingly life-like despite their featureless, monochromatic simple forms. Natour’s single man is cast across a stage, as if in a one act play. Inspired by the digital age where people can present a well thought out version of themselves, a groomed super-ego, Natour does the reverse with his work. “I use my drawings to present my struggles, my demons, the ‘worst’ version of myself.  I really want to strip myself naked, literally and symbolically,” Natour explains.  In Natour’s drawings, there is a recurring naked male figure that represents his identity and specific characteristics. The physical representation aims to highlight the allegorical associations of the human figure — whether historical, cultural, or political. In Natour’s art there is generally an internal conflict with and in relation to art, jokes that are based on traditional artistic iconography and a dialogue with other artworks which ridicules while simultaneously paying homage. “I try to expose the distortion and powerlessness found in structured systems of information imposed by power dynamics within society, particularly in relation to language.” The figure in Natour’s works, as if taken from a universal subconscious, is as likable as he is easy to relate to. Though the figure is a man, the vulnerability throughout Natour’s work surpasses gender and leaves viewers with a uniquely human reaction. “I hope my work makes people feel rather than think,” the artist concludes.

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