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Artist uses still life, portraits to tell stories

By Henna Puthalavan
On April 3, 2018

Artwork by Arbe Bareis.

Kirkwood Community College Assistant Professor of Art Arbe Bareis draws not by his hand but by his heart. 

He has touched his brushes in different types of painting such as portrait, still life and structural abstraction but mostly he draws still life painting. His paintings were on display for the first time Feb. 26 – March 30 in the Iowa Hall Gallery. 

According to Bareis, some of his portrait paintings are exact portraits done by certain models but most of the others are made up. 

His paintings show his skill to understand life structure, anatomy and composition to be able to make something up, without having models.  

He has used literary characters like Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man,” a novel which tells the story of an African American man whose color makes him invisible and shows suffer through prejudices during the 20th century.  

Bareis said he feels there has been so much prejudice and racial tension in the world that he wants to paint and bring the subjects before people’s consciousness. Most of his paintings support the protesting sounds of anti-racist views and women’s right and those who stand against ethnic superiority, racial superiority and gender superiority. Bareis said he knows the importance of bringing these topics to the public.  

Bareis finds subjects for paintings from his surroundings. His painting named “Man Wearing Turban” is one example of his observation of contemporary world. He said he noticed people who wear head covers face a lot of discrimination from the society. So, he decided to bring enlightenment to people about this discrimination through his canvas.  

Bareis said, “I only started to paint when I studied it. I thought I didn’t have talent before that. So, I tell my students that it is really important to stay focused, because we don’t know what is going to happen in life. You don’t know what opportunity life is going to bring you. Be prepared for those opportunities. “  

He added, “For me, art has a big relationship with literature, mathematics and science. So, education is important. And social injustice and history has also big role in paintings.”  

Even though he started his painting in his late 30’s and early 40’s, he has already become a prolific painter. He has been working since 2006 at Kirkwood as a Fine and Performing Arts Specialist and teaches courses in Arts and Humanities.

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