July 31, 2012
I am Lebanese but grew up in Egypt where we were forbidden to speak Arabic at school. My earliest memory: Hearing the comforting early morning call to prayer from the nearby mosque. After classical art studies in Alexandria and contemporary approach to art in the USA, I came back to Lebanon and saw the Middle East through new eyes and an open heart. Its cultural heritage and beautiful nature were a revelation (I love the desert for its seemingly arid aspect which yet reveals a subtle richness). I discovered Arabic calligraphy, Middle Eastern and Islamic culture and arts. I had always felt that perspective annihilated feeling and minimal art bored me. My soul mates became Persian miniatures and Byzantine icons with their perspective “of the heart”. My paintings should be like Sufi stories, simple to understand visually, but with deeper layers of meaning. Symbols of Islam and the Middle East crept into my work as did Arabic and Latin letters and text. We are used to seeing Arabic writing on Mosques and Icons. Traditional, wise proverbs still guide us…but for how long? The global village brings us advantages but we should draw attention to our own rich heritage. I do this through my paintings. I worry that our youth may grow up to be a “sneaker” generation. The long war in Lebanon taught me that today we live different time-spaces simultaneously. We live our actuality, our past and our dreams for the future, and through television we share world events. Figurative art took on a new life and dimension as I opened ”windows” in my work at about the same time as Silicon Valley! Words that to me hover in the air long after they have been uttered also find their place.