Life in ab­stract

Muham­mad Yusuf writes about an artist who uses ab­strac­tions to ex­press her views of life

The Gulf Today - Time Out - - ART -

At times dra­matic, at times serene, but al­ways in sweep­ing mo­tion, ab­stract artist Rima Chahine’s art­works pro­voke a ierce erup­tion of emo­tions in the viewer.

An artist who has taken art les­sons and knows all the rules of art but would rather fol­low her own in­stincts, and some­one whose ob­ser­va­tions of life and liv­ing have been pri­mar­ily her school of art, she has de­vel­oped the high se­ri­ous­ness, acute sense of colour, a par­tic­u­lar kind of dreamy am­bi­ence and ac­tion illed brush strokes, which leave the viewer en­thralled and the can­vas with very lit­tle left to say.

She does not hes­i­tate at the shore; she plunges into the can­vas as some­one to the manor born, per­haps fa­cil­i­tated by the very lack of rigid “art school” for­mal­ity in her artis­tic weltan­schau­ung.

She is also not shy in ap­ply­ing colours. Acrylics in blaz­ing reds, fe­cund greens, un­tamed yel­lows and glo­ri­ous blues, rivet the eyes. Chahine lets her hair down to up­lift her art.

Her colours are coded: yel­low stands for hap­pi­ness; red in­di­cates pas­sion; green is for still­ness and blue for heal­ing; or­ange also points to hap­pi­ness.

But she does not do much with the black colour; maybe be­cause it is very spe­cial. Black, for her, is a combo of sad­ness and strength. This is a ine line she says, per­haps say­ing it all.

An artist with Mid­dle Eastern roots (she is of Lebanese ori­gin), and with Cana­dian na­tion­al­ity, she is be­sot­ted by Mon­treal’s au­tumn colours. The early snow which is more ca­ress­ing than bit­ing, the short In­dian sum­mer that warms one without heat­ing him and most of all, the best leaf-peep­ing time in per­haps all the world, are to­tal in­spi­ra­tions.

When leaves start to change colour and a rain­bow of reds, or­anges, golds and yel­lows en­velop the city, it is the ideal time for Chahine to breathe in the air and breathe out the art.

She does not do things in so­los. For her, the in­di­vid­ual is the uni­ver­sal and she says she feels the emo­tions ev­ery hu­man be­ing feels. So her pieces have the grand swoop of an or­ches­tra, in­stead of be­ing songs sung soli­tary.

The mu­si­cal sim­ile could be ap­pro­pri­ate: Chahine says she works best to the sound of mu­sic. She has a lik­ing for Pavarotti and also Syr­ian singer Mayada Al He­nawy, es­pe­cially her ‘El Hob Elli Kan’ (‘The Love That Was’). But what comes out the head­phones or the sound sys­tem de­pends on her mood.

“I can­not paint without mu­sic!” she says. “Mu­sic brings emo­tions and colours and feel­ings”.

She is in­clu­sive to a fault: there are few things she can­not see and paint. “When I go out­side, I ab­sorb peo­ple’s en­er­gies!” she says. “I have a very light taste. I can make com­mon things look rich”.

But she can also be ex­clu­sive. “It is the per­son­al­ity of the artist”, she says. “Some­times one wants to com­mu­ni­cate, some­times one wants to be with one self. I ex­press my­self with art. With art, I am my­self!”

She is the con­nec­tion be­tween peo­ple and the land­scape. She im­parts her emo­tions to them, hav­ing churned them in the whirlpool of her per­son­al­ity.

But she has an en­tre­pre­neur­ial side too. Emo­tions, colours and sub­jects may sweep her off her feet. But she is too rooted in her mind not to know that ev­ery­thing in art has a price, and that lo­ca­tion some­times de­cides the cost.

Thus she de­cides that her work ‘Seren­ity’, which trumps fear through in­stinct, is ideal for a modern lux­ury in­te­rior. Ac­cord­ing to her, it adds warmth and iden­tity to space. “This piece also adds a softer touch to the in­dus­trial loft style in­te­rior”, she notes.

‘Zen Gar­den’ has colours swirling in uni­son with iery reds and sooth­ing greens, em­braced by warm yel­low. Look­ing like a moun­tain side be­decked with low­ers or the slope of a man made gar­den, ‘Deep Thoughts’ drive you on pur­pose­fully, in sync with the dy­nam­ics of the paint­ing. There is no time for doubts or back­ward glances.

‘Light­ning’, done in a cho­rus of blue, seems to be a drone’s eye of the world, seen from the cam­era of a drone that can fly very high. Bursts of light fall on a re­cep­tive earth, await­ing fer­til­i­sa­tion. It is a mag­netic slice of life, when sky, earth and space come to­gether.

“That ap­petite for life that never leaves, even when you stop be­liev­ing in your­self”, pro­claims ‘Vol­cano Heart’. “Your pas­sion in­side and that lit­tle voice will fol­low you and guide you to your call­ing”.

This pic­ture is a por­tion from the artist’s life, when she had noth­ing to go on with, ex­cept her faith in her­self. The ire­balls of self-conidence and the lava of am­bi­tion are plain to see.

‘New Earth’ and ‘Life’s Land­scapes’ re­veal the ma­tu­rity and mas­tery of the artist. Both com­po­si­tions deal with life, but are stud­ies in con­trast.

Stated plainly, one is done in dom­i­nant green (‘New Earth’) and the other has been in­ished in ex­plo­sive red (‘Life’s Land­scapes’). But life throbs in both of them. One is life as lived in the shade; other is life as lived in the sun. In one, life seems to be, while in the other, life is.

All the emo­tions she has ever felt are on in-your-face dis­play on her can­vas, done in rad­i­cal chic style. “I don’t have the pa­tience for del­i­cate lines!” con­cludes Chahine.

Paint­ing is part of her reclu­sive self. It is like med­i­ta­tion, where all the angst comes out, cathar­sis oc­curs and peace pre­vails. “I like to see paint hap­pen­ing”, she says. “Per­haps I didn’t find love with peo­ple and wanted to ind some­thing not re­lated to the ex­ter­nal world”.

It could per­haps be as Al He­nawy has sung:

“Have you for­got­ten who I am I am the love that was, the one you for­got so soon

From be­fore the forces

You for­got my name too, you for­got it oh wow…

At the treach­ery of the hu­man race…”

(‘El Hob Elli Kan’ or ‘The Love That Was’).

In art she found what is de­pend­able. She is an artist who says she does not dream or think in paint. Art is an un­con­scious ut­ter­ance for her, rather like Pi­casso’s re­gres­sive jour­neys, Van Gogh’s sad­ness and rest­less­ness (“he knew how to ex­press lone­li­ness”) and Monet’s calm­ing ef­fect.

You could in fact draw a clas­sic sketch of her work line from the clues she has given, for an un­der­stand­ing of her art, start­ing from Van Gogh (trep­i­da­tion), mov­ing through Pi­casso (the sub­con­scious) and end­ing with Monet (calm­ness).

“One and half years ago”, she says, “I dreamed. And I do. I don’t dream to do!”

In show­ing how it is done, Chahine has shown how it can be done.

Note: Rima Chahine will soon be ex­hibit­ing her works at An­dakulova Gallery, Dubai.

Rima Chahine

Seren­ity, 100x100cm, acrylic on can­vas.

The Flow Ob­server, 100x100cm, acrylic on can­vas.

New Earth, 120x150cm, acrylic on can­vas.

Magic, 100x100cm, acrylic on can­vas.

Vol­cano Heart, 100x100cm, acrylic on can­vas.

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