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Sunday, December 04, 2022

Profile: Artist Magda Chaban, whose work reflects history and seeks to create hope

Visual artist Magda Chaban tries to inspire hope and inspire people to see Lebanon’s capital Beirut with their own eyes during these trying times.

Chaban is a Lebanese-American painter, sculptor and author. She told Al Arabiya English in an interview that the arts were very important to Lebanese society. He said that apart from being a vessel to bring about change, art reflects history in a way that the history book cannot.

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“In my opinion, I think art is the most important vehicle for social change. For the Lebanese people, during this crisis, it is a kind of communication that helps to find joy in the little things,” she said .

Magda Chaban At Her 'Pile O Face' Exhibition In Beirut, Lebanon.  (Supplied)

Magda Chaban at her ‘Pile o Face’ exhibition in Beirut, Lebanon. (supplied)

“It is a communication, through images and colours, that perhaps brings some hope to the people. It preserves what historical records cannot, for example, the story behind a painting it can describe.” It’s like writing history about how it felt at a particular place in a particular place.”

She continued, “I see that it is much more important for later generations when they see art during this period, perhaps they can understand better than [if they] Read the history book about what happened at that time.”

‘Pile where face’

Chaban recently had his sixth solo exhibition in Beirut last month, in collaboration with Gallerist at the reincarnated Beirut space in Jemmezeh. He exhibited 40 paintings, as well as wooden sculptures and some books in Arabic.

'Sur Les Trotoires De Beauth Ii,' By Magda Chaban (2021), Acrylic On Canvas, 127X80 Cm.  (Supplied)

‘Sur les Trotoires de Beauth II,’ by Magda Chaban (2021), acrylic on canvas, 127×80 cm. (supplied)

Organized under the theme ‘Pile o Face’, the exhibition was inspired by his most recent book ‘Wij Afa’, which when translated into English means “the other side of the coin”.

Through paintings such as ‘Pile o Face’ Chaban aims to portray “Beirut heritage, architectural chaos, and unparalleled beauty, with two main characters: Mr. Tarbosch and Lady Knopf.”

'Havre Bleu' By Magda Chaban (2022), Acrylic On Canvas, 142X110 Cm.  (Supplied)

‘Havre Bleu’ by Magda Chaban (2022), acrylic on canvas, 142×110 cm. (supplied)

“Lady Knopf, who has an amusing character, [she] The painting preserves the old folktales of Mr. Tarbouch. You can see that she always tries to present folktales in a modern way. It is a clash between the old and the new,” Chaban said.

“For the title Wiz Afa, it is meant to say that I made my side of the coin to portray the beauty of Beirut in my own way.”

'Beirut Tramway' By Magda Chaban (2022), Acrylic On Canvas, 140X110 Cm.  (Supplied)

‘Beirut Tramway’ by Magda Chaban (2022), acrylic on canvas, 140×110 cm. (supplied)

“One is [artwork] This one in particular is my favorite because it depicts all the details of Beirut. It’s like a puzzle, I put a lot of effort into it, and it was very well received,” she said, referring to her painting ‘Some Missing Details’ when asked about the pieces that would be displayed. She was most excited to do.

'Some Missing Details', Acrylic On Canvas, 140X100 Cm.  By Magda Chaban (2021).  (Supplied)

‘Some Missing Details’, Acrylic on canvas, 140×100 cm. by Magda Chaban (2021). (supplied)

She also stated that she was very excited to unveil her new characters Mr Tabush and Lady Knopf as part of the exhibition as they told the story of Beirut itself, adding that she would be interested in their future paintings and sculptures. Was planning to build on these characters.

After the exhibition, Chaban said that she would soon launch her book ‘Wiz Afa’.

'Bosta N'5' By Magda Chaban (2022), Acrylic On Canvas, 142X110 Cm.  (Supplied)

‘Bosta N’5’ by Magda Chaban (2022), acrylic on canvas, 142×110 cm. (supplied)

“I wrote this book during Thavra” [Lebanese revolution in 2019] and then after that you have COVID [crisis], It was during this period that I was writing this book and I had not yet had the opportunity to publish it.”

She explained that the book was a short story about a girl who was also a painter, watching her city, Beirut, fall apart. In order to preserve the memory of her city and the things she loves about it, she rebuilds it in her workshop and decides not to leave the house.

“She creates her own world and the benefit of her city with painting and her creativity. The title ‘Wiz Aafa’ means a lot, the character flips everything, on the other side of the coin, creating her own world. “

Keeping the ‘inner child’ alive

“What I cherish and cherish is keeping the inner child alive,” she said.

“I feel that the child inside me is always there… It is the passion inside us that is driving us forward and we need to keep this passion and the child within us alive.”

Chaban has a unique style of artwork, with lined sand squares being his signature.

“When I paint, I have all these lines and squares. They go beyond the composition of my canvas, I have my way of painting the composition as if they are meant to mark my signature, Apply my way of imagining the world, and to express my rebellion because I’m a little rebellious.

The artist said she takes her inspiration from the architecture of Beirut.

Magda Chaban At Her 'Pile O Face' Exhibition In Beirut, Lebanon.  (Supplied)

Magda Chaban at her ‘Pile o Face’ exhibition in Beirut, Lebanon. (supplied)

“I get my artistic inspiration from the architecture of Beirut, like the wooden shutters, the brick ceilings, the paving stones, all these things… I love the architectural chaos of Beirut. I imagine them in a beautiful creation, I also mix electrical cords with clothing lines, this chaos inspired me so much.”

Chaban grew up in her grandmother’s house in Lebanon during the Civil War, which has been an important part of her work.

“I grew up in my grandmother’s house and garden, and she always inspired me. My childhood is very precious to me, so I am always inspired by it. And drawing, painting, handicraft… it was my childhood hobby “

He said that the simple things in the world around him inspire him to make art.

'The Back Yard Ii', Acrylic On Canvas, 120X100 Cm., By Magda Chaban (2022).  (Supplied)

‘The Back Yard II’, acrylic on canvas, 120×100 cm., by Magda Chaban (2022). (supplied)

“I always like to take very simple things that I can present in my own way, the way I imagine them so that they can be appreciated more because sometimes we find joy and happiness in some little things.” can.

“One of my paintings in the exhibition, I called it ‘Bala Wala She’. [translates to ‘Without Nothing’ in English] Shows that sometimes you can find happiness in the very simple things.”

Chaban regularly exhibits his artwork at The Gallerist in Beirut’s Sodeco Square, a space owned by avid art gallery owner Aaliyah Matar.

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