On View: September 11, 2020 – January 8, 2021
Chawky Frenn’s We the People, for Show or for Sure features forty-seven mixed media paintings executed on posters of the Constitution. These works represent Frenn’s response to the timeless manipulations of power and wealth, and their timely manifestations in Citizens United, the Revolving Door, deliberate injustice, and perpetual wars. The paintings summon the viewer to reflect on two fundamental concerns: the influence of money on politics and policy, and the history of the struggle for human rights. Combinations of image and text provide a visual space for reflection on people, triumphs, challenges, and threats to democracy as expressed in the words of presidents, lawmakers, justices, economists, historians, writers, and civil rights activists.
How are the values and ideals of the United States manifested in politics and policies? Why, in the “Land of the Free”, are people still fighting to attain the inalienable rights enshrined in the foundation of our democracy? Can politicians and legislators serve the two masters of the American people and wealthy election donors with integrity? In his first solo exhibition at The Delaware Contemporary, Chawky Frenn asks us to be true to our values and protect the legacy that made the United States a beacon of democracy and human rights. Although our history is plagued with cruelty and hostility, it is still ripe with abundant decency, compassion, and empathy. Frenn’s life, teaching, and art attests to this abundance.
Despite the use of facsimiles of the United States Constitution as the canvas for the paintings, and the quotes from politicians, We the People is not only political, it is humanistic, civic, social, ethical, moral, and even spiritual. We the People is a tribute to Goya’s The Disasters of War, Otto Dix’ The War, Henry Moore’s London’s War – The Shelter Drawings, and Käthe Kollwitz’ and Leon Golub’s oeuvre. It is an active meditation fueled by empathy for humanity, awareness of the interconnectedness of humankind and nature, and recognition that people share similar basic rights, needs, and hopes. This series aspires to promote ideals that inspire people around the world, and seeks to stimulate a candid dialogue leading to a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.
Before emigrating to the United States in 1981, Frenn witnessed six years of civil war in his native Lebanon. The devastating effects of war would powerfully influence his life and work. Frenn received a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, MA in 1985 and an MFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA in 1988. He received critical acclaim by the New York Times, NY ARTS, Art New England, Boston Globe, Connecticut Post, Atlanta Magazine, and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in the United States, and An-Nahar, L’Orient – Le Jour , and The Daily Star in Lebanon. In 2017, Frenn was awarded the Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award and spent five months painting and teaching in New Delhi, India. He is currently an Associate Professor at George Mason University in
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The Delaware Contemporary is located at 200 South Madison Street, Wilmington, DE.