The ar t of life in Chadra

Artist Layal Khawly may now live in Beirut and ex­hibit abroad, but she has never for­got­ten her child­hood in her home­town of Chadra in Akkar

Lebanon Traveler - - CONTENTS - lay­alkhawly.com

Artist Layal Khawly's jour­ney

“Love, peace, na­ture, beauty and sim­plic­ity; this is what I re­mem­ber about the first few years of my life in Akkar,” Layal Khawly re­calls. “They still have all their tra­di­tions, such as mak­ing tan­nour bread and farm­ing or­gan­i­cally.”

Khawly’s con­nec­tion to Akkar and Le­banon is ev­i­dent in her con­tem­po­rary art, with much of her work be­ing in­flu­enced by mem­o­ries or events con­nected to her home­land.

“Le­banese vil­lages as well as the city both in­flu­ence my art,” Khawly ex­plains. “I’m lucky to have both back­grounds since I’m from a vil­lage where na­ture, beauty and sim­plic­ity co­ex­ist and where each stone tells a story. How­ever, the city in­spires me with its moder­nity, col­ors and the dy­namic life within it.”

I THINK PEO­PLE CAN UN­DER­STAND MORE ABOUT MY HOME­LAND THROUGH MY ART

In 2014, she cre­ated a nos­tal­gic se­ries called “The Le­banese Aban­doned Vil­lages,” which paid homage to Chadra and other towns around the area. Khawly still vis­its Chadra when she can, tak­ing the time to pass by her fa­vorite spots and breathe in the na­ture around her.

“I love go­ing near the river that runs through Chadra. There’s a tree nurs­ery there which is part of an en­vi­ron­men­tal project and it’s a won­der­ful place to be,” she says. “It’s also pos­si­bly one of the last Chris­tian vil­lages in the North so it’s unique. It’s a place where you can med­i­tate and re­con­nect with art and na­ture.”

Khawly started paint­ing as a young girl and her thirst for the world of art al­lowed her to vi­su­al­ize new per­spec­tives when there were none. Grow­ing up with this pas­sion fu­eled Khawly’s am­bi­tion to make her mark as an artist and rep­re­sent her coun­try abroad.

Khawly’s work is char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally col­or­ful, al­though her fa­vorite color is grey. “It’s the color of dust that is caused by time, time that re­veals ev­ery­thing,” she ex­plains. “It’s also the color of com­pro­mise - be­ing nei­ther black nor white; it is the tran­si­tion be­tween two non-col­ors.”

Khawly grad­u­ated with a BA in In­te­rior Ar­chi­tec­ture from Notre Dame Univer­sity and an MA in Vis­ual Arts from the Académie Libanaise des BeauxArts (ALBA) in Beirut. When she’s not paint­ing, she en­joys read­ing, lis­ten­ing to mu­sic and find­ing in­ter­est­ing ar­chi­tec­ture.

“I love walk­ing the streets of Gem­mayze and Mar Mikhael,” she says. “Th­ese neigh­bor­hoods have old build­ings and ar­chi­tec­ture that we rarely see now. I feel they have souls and look­ing at them gives me a sense of seren­ity.”

In May 2016, she was se­lected by the Chi­nese Min­istry of Cul­ture to rep­re­sent Le­banon at the Na­tional Mu­seum of Art in Shang­hai.

“I couldn’t be prouder to rep­re­sent my coun­try abroad,” she says. “I think peo­ple can un­der­stand more about my home­land through my art. They can see the sad­ness but also the beauty that is call­ing us back to Le­banon.”

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