Alia E. El-Bermani is a contemporary realist whose principal subjects include women and still lifes. Working from a subdued palette, El-Bermani's paintings question traditional notions of beauty and femininity even as she works in a style that celebrates more conventional beauty ideals. El-Bermani is part of the vanguard of young artists working in figurative realism to achieve new ends.
Born and raised just south of Boston, Alia E. El-Bermani spent most of her childhood enjoying the outdoors and discovering the natural history of the southern shore of Massachusetts. She spent many hours after school and weekends on birding trips with a friend whose father was the director of the Massachusetts Audubon Society. These adventures stimulated Ms. El-Bermani’s desire to seek curiosities as well as developed her keen sense of observation and discovery.
El-Bermani grew up in a scientific home having both parents as professors at Tufts University School of Medicine. It is here where her interest in the human form first developed. She was constantly surrounded by anatomy books and skeletons and was often invited to witness dissections of various animals and even cadavers. Although this does not describe a typical childhood experience it gave this growing artist invaluable opportunities. Now, this understanding of the figure which she quietly absorbed as a child is translated into psychologically charged canvases.
Alia El-Bermani started her art training as a child at the North River Arts Society, which is a small community-run, all-ages association interested in the visual arts. She continued to pursue the visual arts as well as dance throughout her high school years and into her studies at Roger Williams University in Bristol Rhode Island. This large liberal arts college just didn’t quite have the clear focus that she was seeking so in 1996 she transferred to Laguna College of Art and Design (LACD) in Laguna Beach, California. LCAD has a strong emphasis on classical figurative training and ended up being the best place for Ms. El-Bermani to hone her craft and develop as an artist.
In 2000, Alia El-Bermani received her BFA from LACD summa com laude. Ever since, she has enjoyed continued success as a fine artist. Two premier galleries currently represent her, Sullivan Goss Gallery in Santa Barbara California as well as Loft Galeria in Puerto Vallarta Mexico. Her figurative and still life paintings and drawings have also been included in several group shows across the country. Her work has also been showcased in several Museums such as the Palm Springs Desert Museum in California, the Anchorage Museum of History and Art in Alaska and the West Valley Art Museum in Arizona. Several articles have been written on her work in such periodicals as Art Week, The Independent and LA Weekly. She currently lives and works in Pasadena, California with her husband and two talented children.
II. SGTV Video
"Beautiful Vessels" by Alia El-Bermani
Written and Narrated by Susan Bush
Produced by Jeremy Tessmer
For her second solo exhibition at Sullivan Goss, contemporary realist Alia El-Bermani paints an evocative series of new paintings about about women as vessels for beauty and as beautiful vessels.
To watch this video click on the image to the left.
III. An Analysis of the Artist's Work
“Artist Statement ~ Perceptions of Beauty” by Alia E. El-Bermani
When a friend asked me to summarize my entire body of work into as few words as possible I was a bit stumped. Although my work in both drawing and painting has always comprised either the figure and/or still life, that didn’t seem an adequate statement. After a moment of silent thought; it suddenly came to me in a single word, “Beauty”. I have always been interested in finding beauty in my subjects. Whether it is a psychologically charged portrait, a dead bird, or a quiet interior, there is an inherent urge within me to represent the power of ordinary things, the power of their beauty. Habitually, we all tend to overlook and not question ordinary things. As an artist I hope to reveal and celebrate the extraordinary within the ordinary, including the human form.
From this conversation sprang my ideas for this body of work, titled “Perceptions of Beauty”. After months of pondering and reading criticisms on the practice of beauty in art, I decided this body of work had to have a more personal meaning as well. It not only had to represent beauty, but had to have some more social significance. So paring down and braiding several ideas together I decided to go back to another familiar aspect of my work - women. Personally, I have always felt less than beautiful and found that this is a common trait for women. We are constantly buying, wearing, or searching for new products that will make us more beautiful or rather “feel” more beautiful. We wear devices to lift, tuck and conceal. As a mother, I want more for my daughter than that. I want her and all my beloved women to feel their inherent beauty.
The final important aspect of this series is that not only does the subject itself have to represent beauty but the paint itself has to be beautiful. If the application of paint is not beautiful, then it may distract from the overall intent of the image. These images represent my subjects’ own personal sense of what is beautiful as well as my perception of what is beautiful within them. Thus, this is “Perceptions of Beauty.”
1996 –2000 BFA, Summa Com Laude, Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, CA