Birdman Takes London: Semaan Khawam at Hoxton Gallery
In his latest London solo show, Semaan Khawam a.k.a. Birdman unveils ‘Birdman Wings & Wheels’ at Hoxton Gallery.
Syrian-Lebanese artist Semaan Khawam is an acclaimed painter, sculptor and poet with a global reach. Having participated in numerous collective shows including in Lebanon, Bahrain, Jordan, Berlin, France, Italy, New York, Singapore, Taiwan, and the UK, he has achieved remarkable success. Imagery of birds in his work are frequent; his nickname and alias ‘Birdman’ are a reflection of his admiration for the freedom of movement that birds possess. Unconstrained by borders and human affairs, birds migrate and roam the earth freely. By bringing the bird motif into his work, the artist directly tackles issues of migration and identity.
‘Birdman Wings & Wheels’ on display at Hoxton Gallery (photo courtesy of the gallery)
Semaan Khawam painting at Hoxton Gallery (photo courtesy of the gallery)
Semaan Khawam’s art at Hoxton Gallery (photo courtesy of the gallery)
Newly in his work, imagery of the wheel has appeared. “Recently, I added wheels to my work,” the artist shared with me. “Wheels give me mobility. For me, wings are part of the imagination, they are a tool for the imagination. But what is imagination without mobility?” And so, ‘Birdman Wings & Wheels’ was launched at Hoxton Gallery on July 13, 2023. A collection of paintings, sculptures and works on paper, the exhibition brings together his work in Berlin from 2018 to his more recent work in London and Beirut from 2022 and 2023.
The artist Semaan Khawam in his studio in Beirut (photo by the author)
Semaan has been active in the United Kingdom. In 2022, he collaborated with Keele University, specifically with Keele Arts, Newcastle, in a show titled ‘The Rural Interior of the Imagination’. He also had a solo show in Finch Gallery in London in 2022. Furthermore, one of his paintings was shortlisted for the Hastings Museum Award in the UK, also in 2022.
The show at Hoxton Gallery is a product of a long-term friendship between the artist and Kevin Martin, the owner of the gallery. Hoxton Gallery was established in 2009, curating many exhibitions and art events since. Hoxton Gallery recently relocated to a Georgian building in City Road, London, occupying two floors for display area, in addition to seven available studios for artists to participate. The newly refurbished interior is quaint and charming, and the whole building exudes a sense of history.
Semaan Khawam artworks at Hoxton Gallery (photo courtesy of Semaan Khawam)
Upcycled sculpture by Semaan Khawam (photo courtesy of Semaan Khawam)
Guests attending the opening at Hoxton Gallery (photo courtesy of Semaan Khawam)
The artist Semaan Khawam and a guest at Hoxton Gallery (photo courtesy of Semaan Khawam)
Semaan has always aimed to collaborate with other artists. One of his projects realized in Beirut is ‘Sleeping with the Enemy productions’ in which fellow artists and he participate in art-making events, sharing their time and their visions. This type of art-making activities brings inspiration even to his audience in London. I’m certain there is much awaiting from Birdman in the UK in the near future.
‘Birdman Wings & Wheels’ is open for viewing at Hoxton Gallery, City Road, London until July 30th. If in London, make sure to pass by and see the show!