Each painter has his or her way of representing what he or she sees or imagines. Hussein Madi’s vision of women, for example, tends to be curvy and colorful.
Zena Assi perceived Beirut as an oppressive city, haunted by memories of war in her latest exhibition “Omissions Selectives.”
Issa Halloum’s recent paintings, now on display at Saifi’s Alwane Gallery, is comprised of the artist’s colorful rendering of his imaginings of daily scenes. More than 50 oil-on-canvas works are exhibited, plunging onlookers in an explosion of color.
In the triptych “Le Domaine Familial” (The Family’s Territory), 320x180 cm, onlookers face a blast of colors. Depicting figures sitting on a terrace and working the soil, this work could, in its greens, blues and hues of yellow, be an artist’s statement without words.
Aside from a wide palette of color, attention is drawn to Halloum’s linear brushstrokes. Far from alienating the onlooker from the work or lacking perspective, Halloum’s technique carefully renders perspective. The delimitations of the different spaces are quite clear – we decipher with clarity where the edifice, the various fields and the wooden floors end.
In “Le Pot,” 100x130 cm, Halloum makes use of many shades of green. The thick brushstrokes don’t cramp the canvas but create the great of impression of clarity as though looking at a stained glass.
There is no direct representation of sun or light in the painting, but the work insinuates light and transparence with the excessive use of yellow. The title of Halloum’s painting, however, draws attention to the plant’s pot. Our eyes aren’t drawn to the jar at first but to the wildness of the ambient greenery. It’s as though the artist guided our attention to the small and dark pot in order to appreciate even more the explosion of greens.
Some other works assemble blocks of color, as though mimicking the appearance of puzzles. In “Port de Saida,” 180x45 cm, his diptych of the Saida Port, viewers witness a condensed – and almost oppressive – blending of oranges, blues, greens and browns. This concentration of hues is mainly at the foreground of the canvas. The more we look at the background, the more diffuse the colors grow as though evaporating on the horizon.
Halloum teaches in Saida and has a tendency to paint casual port scenes during his lunch breaks or free time, says gallerist Odile Mazloum. There is a sort of candidness in the artist’s works. What we see is exactly what Halloum wants us to see: a garden, people sitting or fishermen on their boats.
In another representation of the port “Port de Saida II,” 180x130 cm, we almost feel invited by the artist to plunge into the canvas, embark on a wonderful journey in one of the boats.
In this canvas, there is a weakening in the colors from the foreground to the background. The foreground is invaded by dark and imposing blacks, dark reds and oranges. The background, meanwhile, is filled with pastel shades of blue and pink. This declension of color brings perspective to the piece.
Issa Halloum’s paintings are displayed at Saifi’s Alwane Gallery until April 13. For more information, please call 01-975-250.