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January 11, 2008updated Feb 07, 2013

Art and Jewelry from the Middle East in Northwood

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

West Palm Beach, FL. – Sabhan Adam, a self-taught artist from Hassakeh, a small town in northern Syria, close to Turkey, claims his paintings are meant to be a mirror reflecting the inner beast in our nature, the touch of evil we all have. “But,” he adds, “though [my] subjects are dark creatures, they are harmless; in fact, they are solitary, lonely figures, filled with pain.”

Lama Hourani’s timeless, evocative jewelry draws extensively from the abundant natural bounty and rich cultural landscape of Jordan. Each of her collections are imbued with the traditions and civilizations of the past, which are recast as stunning amulets for the future – celebrating both our shared heritage and modern diversity.

On Friday the 11th of January 2008 the largest exhibition outside of Europe and the Middle East of paintings by Adam and jewelry, or rather “art to wear”, by Hourani opens at the Educational Gallery Group’s Temporary Contemporary Art Museum on Dixie HWY in Northwood.

This exhibition is fast benefiting thanks to its positioning at the opening of PalmBeach3 Contemporary Art Fair, Jan 11-14 and its extension and connection to Supercar Weekend, Jan 25-26.

SABHAN ADAM, painter

“My name is Sabhan Adam, I come from Hassakeh, close to Iraq and turkey, and I love my neighbor”. “My Childhood memories are obscure to me; that time of my life looks like me. During the first five years of my life. It was weird. You have to rack your brains to understand language, relationships between men and women, old and young people. Black and night ruled my childhood”. (excerpt from the transcribed conversation between Sabhan Adam and Diala Jumail for his monogram, self published as a gift to returning collectors)

Adam’s work was first recognized – and sold – when he was 17. He shot to prominence for his Surrealist artworks and five years later had his first major exhibition at the Goethe Institute in Damascus. Subsequent showings were at various exhibitions in Beirut, Dijon, Amman, Dubai, Nice, Barcelona, New York and Paris.

Adam’s paintings are peopled by humans with hideous, deformed, grotesque forms, giving a morbidly jarring impression. ‘My subjects are born out of imagination but they have a basis in reality,’ he points out. That basis, he says, springs from Adam and Eve and their fall from grace after eating the apple. “Adam and Eve fell from their state of purity and innocence and acquired dark emotions and longings. Since then, humanity’s tale has been filled with mistakes, and my paintings are the expression of this dark side of human beings.”

On a lighter tone, he keeps displaying images of his mind: “I remember my parent’s house; I have this image of an ant pushing soft soil up. I was watching cartoons, playing the dices. A child knows how to play with his own spirit.” He stops for a while, looks at the sea and tells me: “When I was eight or nine, I had to go to school, I followed the others. I wanted to be a dustman: what was the point of learning? I understood the only thing that mattered for me was the Arabic language. It was the opening of my understanding of the world”.

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To bring out his themes, Adam predominantly uses red and black, the colors of passion and anger, and metallic gold and silver, the colors and textures of warmth, prosperity, and human contradictions; his subjects are universal and so is his style.

Sabhan Adam’s paintings are haunting contemporary commentaries on the universal insecurities of mankind. Like TS Elliot’s The Wasteland or Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Adam wrestles with the fear and isolation that limits man’s capacity for compassion and connectivity. In October 2008 several of his paintings reached the auction houses in Europe and the Middle East. Artcurial Paris, Sotheby’s London, and Christie’s Dubai, according to Adam, sold his pieces well beyond their estimated values.

Adam’s expressive characters clearly resonate with today’s collectors.

LAMA HOURANI – jewelry designer

Hourani’s collections are imbued with the traditions and civilizations of the past, which are recast as stunning amulets for the future – celebrating both our shared heritage and modern diversity. She is inspired by primitive etchings and drawings that adorn walls and caves throughout Jordan’s desert and rich archeological sites that recall many locations around the world with similar drawings; of a similar life & daily practices which was way before languages, ethnicities & religions. Those symbols are familiar, explicable and they become a way of communication that bears free self-expression, peace and unity.

Hourani’s unique displays are designed to express the idea, so important to her own creative spirit, that each piece of jewelry is in fact “art to wear”. Each design is either a “master” piece or a part of a limited edition which is a corner stone in her concept of her collectable jewelry collections. All are produced and assembled in her Amman, Jordan, workshop.

Her collections – Lamystique, Gypouin, Bedu Chronicle and Talisman ALAMA are inspired from places of magic in Jordan and the Arab world and the local mythology and old tales. Each collection has its own symbols, more of a unique language of her own, that distinguishes Lama’s jewelry any where you see one of her creations.

Fusing “hand selected” precious and semi precious stones with gold, silver, brass & copper in an unusual approach to contrast and harmony, Hourani’s designs are based on her longtime experience in the arts. Lama travels around the world finding inspiration unusual gems to use as color on her canvas. She plays a game she calls “emotional geography” anywhere she goes – looking at the details around her for traces of the things she loves. For example the old walls of Venice remind her of the “salt chunks and colors of the Dead Sea.”

Lama Hourani is a Jordanian Jewelry Designer who has been designing and producing jewelry since 2000, she opened her first Art Gallery & Jewelry shop in April 2004; holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, Two Diplomas in jewelry design & gemology from GIA in addition to a Master’s degree in Product Design from Istituto Marangoni, Milano- Italy. She resides between Milan and Amman.

Her mission is promoting Jordan’s culture & rich heritage through Art- jewelry. Her Creations were exhibited in Galleries & Museums around the world such as Cairo, Bahrain, Kuwait, KSA, Beirut, Syria, Le Bon Marche- Paris, Harvey Nichols- Dubai, The American Museum of Natural History- NYC, Cincinnati Modern Art Museum, Ottawa Museum of civilization, the Chicago city sister international fashion week- Chicago, and at ENVIRONments in Miami during Art Basel Miami 2007. Three exhibitions in the Gulf (Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Sharja) are due to take place in March 2008.

The “Art and Jewelry from the Middle East” exhibition is organized by Michael D Ellenbogen, a producer of special “boutique” events and independent film from New York City and Lisa Rowan, a resident of Palm Beach who believes that a strong cultural foundation is crucial to the economic health of any community, who is supporting the efforts of the Educational Gallery Group, a community for young artists, to secure a permanent place in Northwood. Ellenbogen and Rowan were introduced by Bjorn Stern, a well known art dealer from Europe.

As a benefit to the community at large, Ms. Lama Hourani will give a talk and offer to host a discussion about art from the Middle East, both traditional and contemporary, to young artists of Eg2, young friends of the Norton, and others at the museum. For inquiries please contact Michael Ellenbogen at


Art & Jewelry from the Middle East
Paintings by Sabhan Adam, “Art to Wear” by Lama Hourani
Northwood Temporary Contemporary Art Museum
403 Northwood Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33407
(on Dixie HWY between 23rd and 24th Streets)

January 11th – 27th
4-7 PM Wednesday – Friday, and noon to 5 PM Saturday and Sunday

For private viewing or info contact Michael Ellenbogen: or 917.842.2669

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