Like many artists in the region, Lebanese painter Ghada Jammal was inspired by the events of the Arab Spring and the collective voice of the masses calling for reform and change.
Seizing upon this inspiration, Jammal opened a new art exhibition on June 14th at Piece Unique gallery in Beirut's arts quarter.
The art exhibition, which runs until mid-July, is one of several Jammal has held since the 1990s in Lebanon, Europe and the United States, where she was received a graduate degree in painting.
Jammal sat down with Al-Shorfa to talk about her current exhibition:
Al-Shorfa: Tell us about your new "Arab Spring" exhibition.
Ghada Jammal: The subject of many of the paintings in my exhibition practically date back to pre-Arab spring and stem from the theme of my last exhibition, "Fear", which I held in 2010. I sought to leave the swamp of fear behind me so I transitioned to a new phase and accordingly created paintings in which I tried to express that something is about to happen.
Al-Shorfa: Can you describe your painting "Spring"?
Jammal: In this painting, I started with the colour red that gradates to the colour white. The painting features my use of brush strokes to [gradually] soften the colour red all the way down to white and to a profound portrayal of the colour of the sky and light. Its completion coincided with the outbreak of the Tunisian revolution, so I named it "Spring".
Al-Shorfa: What can you tell us about the 28 other paintings on display?
Jammal: Some of the displayed paintings proceeded the Arab spring, and only four were painted after it broke out. Among the paintings are two in which I tried to return to the red "Spring" theme to establish a connection between the concepts. Two others feature my staccato brush stroke technique and words and terms echoed by the Arab masses, which had reached the boiling point.
Al-Shorfa: To what extent did you portray the revolution in your paintings?
Jammal: I do not know. All I did was turn the words of the people into a work of art, especially their expression of the urgent need for change.
Al-Shorfa: To want extent does the artist reflect his community?
Jammal: A lot. The artist is the product of her environment and her community, and he too has her daily life and material concerns. What sets him apart from others is that while he makes a living by means of a different occupation, art represents a spiritual element for him. And while it's true I did not participate in demonstrations, I am a citizen before I am an artist and I therefore experience the same concerns and know as others do that what is wrong is wrong.
While others are consumed by dark anxiety, I am awash in optimism, because I am by nature optimistic in my belief that humanity, in its absolute sense, will not perish.