Syr­ian Artist Noor Bah­jat at Ga­lerie Stephanie

The Philippine Star - - ART & CULTURE -

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?”

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