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My first series of women goes back to 1981, after my recent move to New England. At first "The Ladies" were painted with watercolor or acrylic and inspired by a luminous stained glass window that used to cover an entire wall of my grandmother's home in Egypt. I used to call them the "Stained Glass Ladies".

When one of my paintings made it to the juried exhibit of the Currier Museum of Art  in 1984, I learned that my fascination with design and colored glass could be shared with a larger public.

Slowly I started introducing new elements, like flowers, in the women's dresses. The women would be dreaming in different settings made of tiled landscapes and diffused vegetation.


"Marilene Sawaf's oil painting "Friendship," is an intriguing portrait of women. The artist uses tribal- like figures dancing in a sea of tiny circles to make a statement about the long history of female bonding", said Staci Milbouer in April of 1992

She added in February of 1993, "Sawaf's dreamlike images show a singular figure of a woman in the foreground, her body formed by a lush flower.... There is a statement being made about her femininity, womanhood and the world of dreams..."

"Marilene Sawaf's art is a blend of bright colors and designs taken from the Mediterranean. "Born in Egypt and raised in Italy and Lebanon, she has combined traditional techniques of the countries where she lived to create her style... "...Much of her inspiration for the design in the clothing and background is inspired by Oriental carpets as well as Medieval and Renaissance paintings and designs," said Diane Rietan in her Sunday Telegraph interview of September 1996.

 

In general I try to create an illusion, painting women in rich patterned dresses, who make you wonder who they are and what they are doing.

The design, the position of the women's hands, the intriguing expressions of their faces, the mystery of their environment, create a surrealistic image.

A product of my past culture, of my present taste for rich colors and enigmatic effects, my paintings of women are a mysterious reflection of my most subconscious dreams.