Tastes differ. Whether pertaining to food, clothes or art, people simply don’t like the same things. But in some special cases, many people might just find what they are looking for or what they like, in a single space.
The latest collective show at Saifi’s Alwane is one of those cases. It gathers a wide selection of works by Assadour, Farid Aouad, George Cyr and Chafic Abboud – to name but a few of the artists featured – to fulfill the wide-ranging artistic tastes of the Lebanese audience.
Farid Aouad’s pastels may at first seem to be colorful drafts, thick lines of crayons drawn randomly on a sheet of paper. But the more we look at Aouad’s works, the more we see shapes and perspective.
In many of his pastels, Aouad succeeds in plunging viewers into situations known by those who have spent time in Paris.
Aouad lived for many years in the French capital and spent long hours sketching daily Parisian scenes. It’s easy to imagine the artist seated in a tube station or standing in the shadows on a sidewalk, catching the routine moments of passersby. His works have a similarity to photography, in that they catch ephemeral moments.
In his “Heure de Pointe,” we see a group of people waiting at a Parisian underground station. The dark brown color of the station and tunnel contrasts with the colorful clothes of the anonymous passengers.
The characters’ faces are blurry, suggesting that Aouad’s objective wasn’t to sketch people but the scene itself. What mattered to the artist wasn’t to accurately represent Parisians, but rather the context in which they live.
Looking at Aouad’s pastels immediately places the viewer in the midst of this boisterous environment. It is as though we can smell the train fumes, as though we can feel the station platform becoming increasingly crowded as the minutes go by.
In “Attente sur Chaise Jaune,” what first strikes the viewer are the bright yellow items at the center of the paper. The title of the work (Waiting on Yellow Chairs) implies that attention should be focused on the person or persons waiting. But we get the opposite feeling from Aouad’s work. Our attention is purposely guided to the yellow chairs themselves.
Unlike “Heure de Pointe,” the context and background of this work is not detailed. Because of the shapes of the chairs and the café-like table set beside them, we assume – although we can’t be sure – that they are placed outside a restaurant or coffee shop. As for the man sitting on the right-most chair, he is blurry and seems hollow – as though he were just barely an indication of a living entity. What looks like a lack of detail and context is actually Aouad’s way of drawing the attention to the chairs and the typically Parisian bistro.
Assadour’s oils on canvas are completely different from Aouad’s works. Assadour didn’t draw his inspiration from daily scenes, rather his imagination led his brush into painting surrealistic-inspired shapes.
In his “Personnage avec Objet Volant” (97x130 cm), viewers confront a canvas on which mechanical pieces seem to have been assembled. A human-like figure stands at the canvas’ center, with a limbs bent at angles that suggest motion.
An unidentified flying object fills much of the canvas’ left side, which makes viewers ponder its nature: Is it a spaceship? Is it a steering wheel? Or perhaps a clock? It’s not clear.
But what is more intriguing is that that in the canvas’ center, we seem to be looking at a representation of a crash test dummy. The different colors of the character’s body parts seem to picture different metals or media that might be found on a mannequin. Viewers are confronted with a depiction of a mechanical, automated world, with bits and pieces jutting out of this dummy.
Other works exhibited in this collective show are more abstract than Aouad’s or Assadour’s.
Chafic Abboud’s only piece in the show, “Composition Abstraite” (oil on canvas, 28x36 cm), draws interest with its use of paint. We are more hypnotized by the thick layers and brushstrokes than by what is represented – a patchwork of rectangular shapes. Paint actually sticks out from the canvas, showing Abboud’s strength in accumulating layers of paint without simply creating massive blotches. The colors chosen by the artist – muddy pinks, oranges, greens and blues – seem to mingle, one into the other.
The Alwane Gallery has assembled a catch-all show. Viewers can happily meander through the space’s various rooms – switching between artists, styles, and shades of color – undoubtedly finding something to tempt their tastes, whatever they might be.
This collective show is on display at Saifi’s Alwane Gallery until Jan. 24. For more information, please call 01-975-250.