Visual artist Alymamah Rashed’s gestural, surrealist paintings harness self-portraiture to investigate the complexities of identity in the post-internet generation. Rashed understands herself as a multifaceted being, the various elements that comprise her persona flow out into the different realms that she emits onto her canvas: the earth-bound (the mind and the fleshed body), the spiritual (the thobe), and a combination of the two which come to form a third space. Spirituality, specifically the notion of spiritual intelligence, has been a central tenet of Rashed’s existence, yet she understands spirituality as universal; the act of prayer is engaged with across faiths and cultures. Observing the body as a capsule of movement, through the process of prayer Rashed can transcend as she witnesses her physical and spiritual worlds conflate.
Referencing late Algerian modernist pioneer Baya Mahieddine's colour-fuelled, idiosyncratic form of autobiographical portraiture, her large-scale works negotiate her female subjectivity. Rashed draws from regional folklore and the rapid social shifts that she has witnessed such as the modernisation and industrialisation of the Gulf region, she negotiates readings of Islamic philosophy and poetry, and ornamentation and the every day banal objects that she encounters. The artist is inspired by the likes of Francis Bacon, Chris Ofili and the ornamentation of Matisse. Rashed’s internal world manifests in her art through icons absorbed from myriad sources including regional typographic, Persian and Afghani visual icons, Sufi poetry, philosophy and theology responding to both Plato and Muslim scholars, such as Suhrawardi, Ghazali. Her father, an academic and humanitarian and her mother, an economist with an affinity for art, design and culture, have also come to inform the artist’s multifaceted world which she dutifully relays through her art.
Rashed received her MFA in Fine Arts at Parsons School of Design in 2019 and her BFA in Fine Arts at The School of Visual Arts in 2016. She participated in various exhibitions in New York City including the Czech Center, Parsol Projects, and The New School.
She is a recipient of the Masters Scholarship and the Merit Scholarship program by the Kuwait Ministry of Higher Education. She was also a fellow at the Professional Development Initiative Program sponsored by the National U.S-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Kuwait Ministry of Higher Education, Embassy of Kuwait, and the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences.