Syrian Artist Noor Bahjat at Galerie Stephanie
Van Gogh and Lucien Freud are, coincidentally, major influences in the practice of Syrian artist Noor Bahjat. Bahjat is currently in Manila as the inaugural artist in Galerie Stephanie’s new residency program, and she made quite a buzz when her paintings were exhibited at the recently concluded Art Fair Philippines. The public was drawn to her atmospheric paintings that rendered an inner turmoil and angst that delicately examines the human psyche.
Taking the idea of her work as a realized tapestry of her observations during her threemonth residency in Manila, Bahjat opens her first Philippine exhibition titled “Which One Is Your Thread,” which opens on April 28 at Galerie Stephanie in Libis.
Noor Bahjat is a young artist who hails from Damascus, in Syria. One would think that the current conflict engulfing her country would have some effect on her art. However, an understanding of Bahjat requires a reading into the internal, rather than the external.
“I used to draw and doodle and sketch early in my life,” she says. “And then I started painting when I entered university. This is how I became an artist. I wanted to go to the Faculty of Fine Arts [of Damascus University], and my parents were supportive.” Her studies, however, were interrupted due to conflict, and her family subsequently relocated to Dubai. She returned to Damascus when the situation stabilized, and ultimately finished at the top of her class before accepting a residency at Ayyam Gallery, also in Dubai where she now lives.
“Sometimes I have an idea. I start with a portrait and then it’s like a question and answer,” says Bahjat of her artistic process. “I make the face, for example, and then it’s exchange. I start with something and I end up with something else. I always change, always. Ask and answer, ask and answer, until I come with a result and I am done. I have my answer for now. So yeah, every painting begins with a question.”
This declaration is important when analyzing Bahjat’s work. In a sense, she is thus engaged in a sort of dialogue with herself — a study of her being and the nature of existence. It is an approach that is experiential by nature, and something she wishes to experiment on during her stay in Manila. “I am going out on my own, but not yet further,” she says. “Because they are warning me a lot. Don’t go there and don’t go there. But I want to go to all those places, I want to experience the poorer areas. From what I have seen here, the gap between the rich people and poor people is huge. Really huge. And this is something I want to use to influence my art.”
Galerie Stephanie is at Unit 1B Parc Plaza Building, 183 E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue, Libis, Quezon City. For information, call 709- 1488, or email inquiry. galeri[email protected]
Syrian artist Noor Bahjat
“Where Does Your Reflection Swing?” by Noor Bahjat
“What is the Nature of Being?” “Where Do We Belong?”