Born in Cairo in 1941, Bassmi Ibrahim’s aesthetic education began at home with his father, who was devoted to photography. At school, Bassmi’s talent was recognized at 14 by an art teacher, who for the next seven years instructed him privately both in traditional techniques and in “how to feel and think as an artist”. Bassmi went on to study at Ain Shams University, receiving his BA degree in art in 1963. Bassmi attended 4 years of noncredit studies at the College of Fine Art, and while the curriculum focused on making art in older styles, ranging from classical to Impressionist, Bassmi was deeply attracted to modern painting, that eventually became his lifelong preoccupation. In 1965, awakening early one morning with his mind clear and open, Bassmi realized a need to paint from his inner self. What followed was an outpouring of 150 small ink wash images, that connected the observable and the subconscious. This approach, which the artist calls, “painting from my gut and not my mind”, would prove basic to Bassmi’s art.
In the mid-1960s, the artist moved to New York, immersing himself in the world of abstract art. One day in Greenwich Village, Bassmi encountered in person one of his artistic influences, Mark Rothko. Later, while seeing his work the older artist encouraged Bassmi in his path as a painter, and Rothko remains a spiritual mentor. Other important influences include the Abstract Expressionists de Kooning and Pollock, and the Color Field painters Paul Jenkins and Helen Frankenthaler. During this period, Bassmi’s abstract paintings were shown in New York.
In the mid-1970s Bassmi moved to Clearwater, Fl where he took over his father’s printing business and ran an art gallery. During a hiatus from painting, the artist immersed himself in the study of metaphysics and homeopathy. The spiritual depth that he explored became a touchstone for his work, with abstraction an embodiment of the boundlessness of existence itself. In 1999, the artist produced several new paintings, these canvases, while abstract, reflected the artist’s closeness to nature, as well as his feeling for the dialogue of spontaneity and control with liquid, translucent paint. From 2004-2005, Bassmi produced paintings with veils of rich color on white grounds. The Isness Series in 2005 followed a similar format and was inspired by the intrinsic reality of all experience, expressed through luminescent petals and flows of oil and acrylic paint.
Bassmi’s work is in corporate and private collections and has been widely exhibited in the United States and abroad. His recent solo exhibitions include those at St. Petersburg College, the University of South Florida, Eckerd College, Salt Creek Art Colony, Pensacola Museum of Art, Panama City Art Center and Parkersburg Art Center, West Virginia.
Bassmi’s art work has a unique ability to produce emotional, ethereal, and hypnotic responses in its viewers. Collectors often express that the work changes the vibrational atmosphere of their surroundings. Bassmi’s work attracts a wide audience including those who do not usually relate to abstract art.
None of these paintings insist on a literal meaning, instead they speak in a language we intuitively recognize, a language that mimics the movement of water, the massing of clouds, the budding of flowers. Whatever is recalled for us, it is the play of presence and absence that asserts itself as the fundamental rhythm of life.
His work begins from a meditative state where his vision presents itself and is then captured on the canvas. The paint is applied in a liquid form. The painting is then revisited in several sessions during which transparent layers of paint are applied until the depth and vibrancy of his original vision is achieved.
These paintings are created to serve as windows to an inner passage where viewers can find their own undiscovered dimensions. When viewed in a meditative sense, they convey the poetry of creation; they help us experience the Isness of life and a peaceful state of being.