Lebanese artist Chucrallah Fattouh
Sitting alone on the shore and collecting whatever the sea throws nearby are what helps Lebanese artist Chucrallah Fattouh to disconnect from the
world and paint. "Since I was 10-year-old living near the seaside at Monsef (Byblos) city, I knew that I had something inside and I must get it out, but I was unaware of the way to express my feelings,” he explained. “One day, I went to the sea, which was located behind my house, and the sea’s colors, sounds, waves and things it washed up on shore, gave me ideas to start painting.” As a child, Fattouh spent hours collecting shells, pebbles, dolls, pieces of wood, and whatever wonders the sea washed ashore. Through them, he constantly experimented with shapes and colors. "The language of the sea captivated me and I wanted to give it a voice," he explained. Beside the sea and shore, his second inspiration and first supporter was his mother who recognized his talent early on and encouraged him to pursue it. Fattouh’s main concept in life is to draw what he feels. He believes that despite being a sensible person, a painter is the master. “He can control nature in his drawings,” he said, adding that politics don’t interest him. He completed his first painting at the age of 12 and sold his first works — four portraits of his mother — to a French passerby. He then joined the National Institute of the Lebanese University’s Faculty of Fine Arts and received his degree in Fine Arts with honors in 1983. Ever since, Fattouh has been a prolific artist. From 1985 to date, he has held over 150 collective and personal exhibitions in Lebanon’s noted art galleries and festivals. Abroad, Fattouh exhibited in UNESCO in Paris, Cyprus, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Moscow, Montreal, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Cannes, Virginia, Tunisia and Brazil. After seeing the 2006 GCC Polo Cup magazine and learning about the BMG Foundation, Fattouh was inspired to create a series of paintings under the theme of “polo” as a bridge between East and West. His art was then displayed at the Guards Polo Club before being auctioned during the GCC Polo Cup. Funds raised from the sale of the paintings went into BMG Foundation’s charitable recipients for 2007. In his latest exhibition in London, Queen Elizabeth honored him with a medal. "My exhibition in London was, to me, the bridge of victory and power. I have exhibited there to introduce my work to different people. The Queen liked my idea of connecting East and West,” he said. Fattouh's works are permanent exhibits at Monsef and are regularly presented in his autumn exhibitions that take place at Sursok's museum in Beirut. "All my exhibitions reflect myself. Despite the different colors, sketches and dimensions that I present in each painting, I draw myself," he said. He added: “Each period of my life is the center of the flowing one — just like a vortex, which becomes bigger." After participating in several exhibitions both locally and internationally, Fattouh came out with clear differentiations between Arab and non-Arab audiences. "Arab audiences share the same sense of nostalgia, and it’s really big. This is because Arab countries share similar histories and have a similar taste. To paint for non-Arabs means to move to their history, get inside their minds and hearts and touch their feelings. I noticed that non-Arabs have different views and tastes,” he explained. According to Fattouh, Jeddah is a tourist destination; that is why he chose to visit it and present his opinions about the city in his latest exhibition. He confirmed that his latest paintings exhibited are just like books that narrate life in Jeddah. “What I wrote was not translated in alphabets; rather it has been translated as colors on a white canvas. Actually, my latest exhibition in Jeddah conveyed a message to the Saudi audience and I was really satisfied with the feedback,” he said.