"About these body prints, I was institutionalized for 5 years by now and my artwork had been confiscated by the administration to be examined for pathology. I felt a need and desire to continue painting but I knew I could not again paint figuratively. The Body and Soul Series grew out of this desire, using minimal colors and as much abstraction as the human image could conjure. It's a very limited series, less than 10 exist, meant to convey modern man in various states of confinement and the splitting and fracturing that occurs during institutionalization. It also comments on the pain of separation and rejection of the black man in a white supremacist culture, and the confusion and turmoil within himself, fighting with the the races within his psyche."
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acrylic on unstretched canvas
72" x 83"
New York City
“I would not have survived life's traumas without art. Working creatively allows me to do my own art, music and literary therapy on myself.”
Issa Ibrahim is a creative Renaissance man born in Jamaica Queens, New York. He is the author of the memoir, The Hospital Always Wins, published by Chicago Review Press in 2016 as well as the award-winning filmmaker of Patient’s Rites, an autobiographical musical documentary. His story and work has been featured on German Public Television, an HBO documentary, and NPR. After reclaiming his life from the “jaws of absolute defeat,” as described in his memoir and documentary, Issa has found meaning and purpose as an artist, musician, author, advocate, activist and 25 year artist-in-residence at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center’s Living Museum.
It was discovered early on that Issa had a gift for rendering, which was nurtured by boundless creative influences from his mother, an artist, and father, a musician. Growing up in the vibrant, bustling world of Queens and New York City, he notes that his visual style was heavily influenced by the explosion of color and innovative graphic design of the 1960s. Saturday morning television (most notably the work of Chuck Jones) and the daring covers and “splash pages” of superhero driven comic books also had an undeniable imprint on his artistic soul.
Issa is a graduate of Manhattan’s High School of Art and Design and studied at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. His most notable artistic influences are, “Salvador Dali, whose technical proficiency was rivaled only by his fantastic sense of the absurd and disturbing, as well as Norman Rockwell, a phenomenal renderer and master of photo-realistic expression.” Issa’s life and art practice are committed to challenging stigma, preconceived and prejudicial ideas in society. “I will continue to challenge and expose the realities of our broken mental health system and explore how openness can aid in respecting psychiatric sufferers and survivors who are our fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, friends, neighbors and ourselves.”
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