If you’ve been following Helikon Gallery for any of the past year, chances are you’ve seen Daliah Ammar’s work. We first got to exhibit her gorgeous oil paintings in last year’s ‘Muses of Mount Helikon,’ and her work has been catching eyes in our hallway collection and main shows ever since. We’re lucky enough to show three of Daliah’s paintings in this year’s Muses, on view through December 10.
I was first drawn to Daliah’s work for the atmosphere she creates in each painting: glowing figures emerge from dark backgrounds, at once hauntingly beautiful and breathtakingly human. Daliah, a full time student in her last year at SAIC, creates each work in a painstaking traditional process, first completing a monochromatic underpainting, then adding 2-3 layers of color until the piece is complete. (Follow her instagram page to see process shots). The artist’s statement beautifully states what she successfully achieves through her paintings:

The purpose of Daliah Ammar’s work is to transcend the notion of the self and the physicality of paint, resonating from her own vulnerable and personal experiences—as a means of conveying life as it blooms and decays from within. Expressing that awareness of the self and reflecting to the viewer establishes a relationship between themselves and herself. Her works appear as dreamlike images in which ethereality and reality meet, subjects appear lost deep within the confines of the canvas, moments are evocative of atmosphere and emotion and become a window into the human psyche.

Willem de Kooning once stated that “Flesh is the reason oil paint was invented”. By using the painted surface as a trope for the physical and psychological presence between the inner self and external viewer, her works are confrontational, yet, intimate and personal – a drawn reflection upon the art of painting itself: thoroughly self-referential, yet no less aesthetically pleasing, and therefore deeply inscribed in contemporary realism.”

Below, Daliah answers a few questions to give us a glimpse into her life as an artist:

Daliah Ammar, 'Something You Can't Look Back On'
Daliah Ammar, ‘Something You Can’t Look Back On’

1). Do you have a “day job” outside of your art?

I’m currently a senior at The School of the Art Institute studying Graphic design as a “day job” and try to balance painting on my own time every day.

2). How long do you usually take to complete a piece? Do you work on multiple pieces simultaneously?

I usually only work on one painting at a time but plan for other paintings while I’m working on one – it usually takes between a day or up to a couple weeks to finish depending on the painting.

Daliah Ammar, 'As One (Eros and Psyche)
Daliah Ammar, ‘As One (Eros and Psyche)

3). What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?

Excel Hand-Held Scraper With Blades – it’s literally the best thing I’ve ever used for cleaning palettes.

4). What are you working on now and what projects do you have coming up?

I’m working on a series about one-sided relationships and I’m getting ready for my senior thesis show in March.

Daliah Ammar, 'On Your Own'
Daliah Ammar, ‘On Your Own’

5). What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I started painting back in 2014!

Daliah Ammar, 'Xeno'
Daliah Ammar, ‘Xeno’
Thank you to Daliah for participating in our interview! You can see her work in Muses of Mount Helikon IV, on view through December 10, 2016. To see more of Daliah’s work, visit www.daliahammar.com. For more information about Helikon Gallery and Studios visit www.helikongallery.com.

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