Jane Gemayel collaborates with Monaco Pavilion for her debut Dubai exhibition - GulfToday

Jane Gemayel collaborates with Monaco Pavilion for her debut Dubai exhibition


Jane Gemayel’s artwork.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Canadian artist Jane Gemayel, who lives and works in Monaco, will hold her first Dubai-based exhibition with a retrospective selection of her works, in the Monaco Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai (Jan. 12 – 13) operated by cultural event managers, Grimaldi Forum Monaco. Born in Ontario, Canada, Gemayel discovered at a very young age a life-long passion for books, dictionaries and a love of words. At the age of 20, she uncovered and decoded the work of poet and visual artist Kahlil Gibran — which has given meaning to the way she approaches life and work ever since, drawing a path through art, literature and today’s mass media news. In 2015, she published a bespoke illustrated edition of Gibran’s seminal work The Prophet.

Imbued with a classical heritage that she shares with the masters who inspired her such as Matisse and Klimt, Gemayel records the movement of a body in black ink, with a spontaneous line. Within the drawing, the sense of movement is rendered through the use of arabesque motifs and dense lines executed with this medium deposited with energy, in the manner of a calligrapher who fills the space before him. Her work is the fruit of a long meditation on the world.

art-jan Colour and black and white create refreshing contrasts in Jane Gemayel’s work.

The Black Boxes bear witness to this: they are intimate packs in which the artist meticulously collects all the substance of her work: quotations, press clippings, notes, associations of ideas and colours - images charged with contained emotion. The Woman, Heart, Innocence series extends this emotion with simplicity. With the News as Muse series, from 2016, Gemayel’s work takes a turn.

The written word and the image remain the starting point, but here random articles and photographs from The New York Times are appropriated and drawn over to produce a combination of news and art, bringing a documentary value to her drawing without it becoming an illustration. The artist questions our relationship with power and politics, wonders about the future of mankind and our planet, and denounces the loss of the values that are so dear to her heart: love, tolerance, peace and freedom.

Gemayel thinks outside the box to answer Gulf Today’s questions What, according to you, is the link between word and picture? Words possess a sense of mystery, awe, and fascination. Words are a form of action, capable of influencing change. Words set me in motion … a whole story that takes shape and meaning to expand the text visually. Pictures are incredibly important. “Words, words, words”, said the dramatist (Shakespeare), indicating their emptiness. Particularly perhaps in the era of info overload. Would you care to comment? “Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky.

We fell them down and turn them into paper, that we may record our emptiness.” Kahlil Gibran. “I want it now!” “Do it now!” The era of overload — there are no limits! No time! The cost of overload is the harm to human relationships. There seems to less and less time for direct person-to person contract. In which ways do Matisse and Klimt inspire you? Matisse for being the greatest colourist of the 20th century. The lines and colour in the painting “La danse” (last version). Matisse’s work has a soothing calming influence on the mind.

The joy of life. The symbolism and the decorative colour of Gustav Klimt. The female body. The Tree of Life. Klimt’s illustration of a magical world … his black bird is a reminder everything has a beginning also has an end. Apart from helping movement, how does arabesque and calligraphy inform your work? The symbolism of arabesque of unity and spirituality.

The beauty of the lines and rhythms through geometric shapes of the circle, square and triangle, which is the starting point of my women painting. Calligraphy allows me to see each word and phrase, the way a painting allows me to put words to a story. Why do you consider the boxes which contain descriptions of yourself and your work black (as in Black Boxes)? The Black Boxes contain written notes, ideas, newspaper clippings, photos, sketches etc. collected over the years. Boxes are symbols of concealment.

If you open the box secrets will be revealed … dark or delightful imaginary or real … Is the brain a black box? The human brain is the most complex biological structure on Earth … largely because the brain is so complex and dynamic, it is akin to a “locked black box”. Three pounds of mystery lodged between our ears. News, for most, is not muse. But for you it seems otherwise (News as Muse). Why? Muse … is to consider something thoughtfully, so I reflect on the news as an inspiration and influence in my work. Art can give people an understanding of time.

The news gives me a perspective of humanity, culture, nature, climate change, war … Visual expressions shed light on ethical issues. The news both inspires me and instills concern. What are your impressions of the Middle East, as a Canadian-European? My first impression of the Middle East began many years ago with the discovery of the book “The Prophet” written and illustrated by Kahlil Gibran. The story maybe it was destiny to take a sabbatical year in Paris and marry a Lebanese! My impressions of the Middle East are through the eyes of my heart and the love for Lebanon.

The kindness of the people is an enlightening and enriching experience. The beauty of the women … the regard in their eyes, the strength generosity, their joie de vivre, resilience, warmth, the love for their children and their country, but especially their kindness to accept me into their hearts.

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