Marwan Kassab Bachi’s work is often influenced by psychological states and early memories, such as the people he met as a child or his first interactions with color: the silk threads used to embroider flowers on his clothes or the colored papers and clippings he arranged to build kites. Marwan took this fascination with the human condition and color with him when he travelled from Damascus to Berlin, where it continues to be the basis of his artistic practice and his connection with the history and traditions of the land where he grew up.
His compositions of the 1970s were an important step towards abstraction. It was then that Marwan’s attention moved away from depictions that include the full figure, sometimes missing limbs, until he focused solely on heads, a subject he would paint obsessively for three decades. In Large Head (Turned towards the Right), Marwan layers a wide range of colors on top of one another using expressionistic brushstrokes that allow him to create a vivid image of a head whose dreamlike features are at once familiar and strange. In other portraits, the sitter’s head seems to be flattened and stretched in obscure abstractions that could be interpreted as light, cloudy beings. Marwan leaves the viewer unsure about who is depicted and deconstructed in his portraits, which evoke a dark interiority.