“Vento d’Oriente”, Lebanese art in Venice Palazzo Priuli Bon, july 2016
Diala Aschkar, Art Director at Orient Palms, Paris, France

“Vento d’Oriente”, Lebanese art in Venice

Palazzo Priuli Bon, july 2016

The wind blew from the East on the city of Venice in Italy, where the exhibition “Vento d’Oriente”, featuring 16 Lebanese artists, dazzles with colors and energy. It is organized at the Palazzo Priuli Bon by Loreta Larkina’s art gallery from July 23rd to 28th. Such an exhibition reminds us that historically, both Venice and Beirut have derived their richness from being commercial and cultural hubs between the East and the West.

I was very happy to attend its opening while in Venice, and to see my friend Louma Rabah – one of the artists. I met the other artists there - most of them women - and was charmed by each one’s personality and by the mood of jubilation and conviviality.

  • Louma Rabah
  • Louma Rabah

Louma Rabah’s abstracted colorful compositions seem wild and fauvistic in approach; they invite us to enter into a floating world of abstraction where recognizable shapes might pop up unto the surface of the composition. The paintings are bold, often using contrasting colors, yet they lull us into a beautiful, gentle and peaceful inner world where pictorial tensions magically dissolve.

  • Ferial Sayegh
  • Ferial Sayegh

Ferial Sayegh’s paintings often focus on drawing traditional Lebanese folkloric life where she shows her characters in traditional clothes as seen in typical moutain villages. A naive colorful style illustrates daily scenes and typical poses. Highly graphic and clearly defined, they remind us of a peaceful time when life was simple and uncomplicated.

  • Nada Rizk

Nada Rizk’s small ceramic pots, birds and angels take us back to much older times. Shed inscribes arabic calligraphy on the bowls drawing inspiration from her roots in the Middle East. They are rough, raw and basic, and intend to remind us of primitive art forms yet she integrates her own brand of spontaneous poetry into this ancient craft.

  • Hana Kaaki
  • Hana Kaaki

Hana Kaaki’s statements in ceramics defy the medium’s traditional aspect by instilling new perceptions into her forms: she plays with our sense of gravity by making clay as light as a paper or a balloon. She delightfully creates simple elegant forms that make us question our customary realities.

  • Mona Kabbani Khater
  • Mona Jabbour

Mona Kabbani Khater started her passion for painting with an infinite love for architecture, landscape and scenery. She tries to capture nature in all its wonders as its little beautiful details which our eyes do not catch at first sight. She uses a mixture of gouache, acrylic, watercolors, collage and a hing of photographic views to add as many characteristics as possible to a scene.

Mona Jabbour questions the banality of her environment by combining various themes into a single composition. Using painting or combined media, she creates compositions that search for beauty yet reveal ambiguous relationships between her subjects. Obsessed by city scenes, haunted by Phoenicians, drawn to flowers or human figures, reflecting on politics, she combines metaphoric images to reveal various moods and messages in Art.

  • Maya Fares
  • Lamia Saab Muhtar

Maya Fares’ paintings on canvas or/and porcelain show her strong technical abilities and somehow classical background. She paints beautiful subjects and illustrates Gibran’s poems asserting her respect for tradition and her passion for art. Her paintings seek to reflect harmony and loveliness and her joy in making art.

Lamia Saab Muhtar’s collages and mixed media assemblages combine realistic images within loosely scattered compositions. Innocent visions of childhood play and folkloric Lebanese symbols tell many stories through her statements. Her collages are spontaneous, childlike and direct. They may also be derided from her commitment to children’s causes and dedication to social activism in Lebanon.

  • Leila Kanso
  • Fay Mansour

Leila Kanso’s recently painted abstractions of human figures show energetic brushwork and a lot of movement. In her attempt to show other sides of humanity, she seeks to reveal all sorts of truths at times uncanny, engaging the viewer to see what she calls: “faces of inhumanity”.

Fatima Osman’s sufi dancers sway gracefully in circular movements exuding passion, freedom and dynamic movements. They remind us of a previous time when philosophy and mysticism combined to inspire these dances. Her figures gravitate gently in an empty space nostalgically pointing towards a time and magical culture that has been lost, then consequently been replaced by decadent corrupt politics.

  • Izzat Khourchid
  • Izzat Khourchid

Izzat Khourchid’s colorful abstract collages take us to another transcendental world, a remote “collagescape” which hover over and outside our usual notion of space… where similarly shaped patches of colored papers are creating a new visual field, one which makes us wonder about the ultimate presence of hope or peace in our environment: noiseless, desertlike, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, as if seen from a far distance, aloof, lonely, mysterious, the antithesis of our violent world.

  • Doreen K. el Zein
  • Doreen K. el Zein

Doreen Khanamerian el Zein delves into a world of abstract moving lines and colored textures. She takes us into a moment in time, into a burgeoning or chaotic unfolding moment where form is in stop motion, as if blurring a motion or stopping time. They are chemical and mobile yet they are also meaningless. They are making us question everything and nothing, like a chemical reaction or a motion of things in space. They imply movement and direction, but not solidity.

  • Liane Mathes Rabbath
  • Renée Fawaz

Liane Mathes Rabbath’s powerful geometric forms leave a powerful impression. They are circular colorful discs that cannot be ignored. Repetitive and bold, they creatively show a strong sense of color and design. Clearly delineated, carefully crafted, they show her passion for creativity and concern for elegance in her art.

Renée Fawaz has developed her own style of abstract expressionistic painting combining layers of thick paints with dynamic brushwork. Her non objective compositions show a great sense of space, color and movement. They are aesthetically appealing and show a solid sense of design.

  • Rabia Maatouk
  • Layal Khawly

Rabia Maatouk’s paintings instantaneously capture a pose. Her sketchy brush prescribes expressions in a direct and simple manner. She experiments with subjects and media using color to draw her subjects: human figures, flowers… Her images are concise, exhibiting a deep emotion and humanitarian concerns.

Layal Khawly’s depictions of old Lebanese houses and such typical scenery takes us back to an older time when rural or urban life were easier to live in, unlike today, in our cities that have been invaded by high rises and imposing structures. Nostalgically, they take us back to our sentimental roots. Using a semi-abstracted painting style, she creates lovely paintings reminding us of our attachment to origins and roots.