By Mike V. Derderian
A passionate embrace is flooded by streams of light. Gold yellow waves interspersed with darker shades the color of violet, red, orange and white engulf a man and a woman in a state of love.
Stand still, keep quite and watch the enamored couple; the only two who managed to find each other unlike the other men and women who roam the dream-like illuminated pieces of Hammoud Chantout, that are now hanging at Dar Al-Anda Art Gallery in Lweibdeh.
State of Life, that measures 145 x 120 cm, is but one of the many impressive canvases that Chantout’s hands created. It conjures up Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. Chantout’s two lovers are caught in a vortex of colors that embody the enlightenment that their love brought fourth.
Unlike the two in State of Life, a title that Chantout used with other pieces, the others appear to be aloof and detached. Viewers will find them standing next to objects that Chantout’s brush brilliantly produced.
Why is that male artist standing a few meters away from a red chair, while another, a female artist, is leaning on a rail amidst a haze of earthly tones?
Some of Chantout’s colorful personages, and I say colorful because uneven patches of color formulate their construct, are standing next to bright colored pieces of furniture while others are standing under trees that give away echoes of Africa.
Viewers crossing the entrance hall will find a set of six exquisite miniature tableaux to their right. Chantout cleverly created a landscape broken down to six pieces. Each pieces tells part of a story that could have happened anywhere around the world. The architectural edifices that Chantout relies on to create his sceneries give out the feel of Syrian rural mud houses.
Born in 1956 Chantout graduated from the Suhail Al-Ahdab Art Center in Hama, Syria in 1975. In 1976 he was admitted to the Faculty of Fine Art with a 1st rank. He has been holding solo and collective exhibitions in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Canada, and Turkey since 1972.
At Dar Al-Anda one will also come across a book entitled Chantout and that allows viewers to take a glance at his impressive volume of work.
Copies of this book that holds haunting images that found their way out of Chantout’s beautiful mind are most probably on sale.
The female figure dominates a lot of Chantout’s pieces.
The Bride with the White Mask (70 x 100 cm), Paradise (70 x 100 cm), Hope (80 x 100 cm), Angel (60 x 70 cm) and A Princess from One Thousand Nights (60 x 70 cm) are a celebration of the femme and her role in the building of humanity and the birth of mythology’; a legacy that some are trying to bury.
Thanks to such poignant pieces by Chantout the celebration continues, and another memory is added to humanity’s collective memory, to remind us of the femme that haunted the minds of artists throughout the ages.
With Adam’s Apple (60 x 70 cm), and that Dar Al Anda used for the cover of their beautifully designed brochure, a must have, Chantout offers us an interpretation of the ultimate illumination: Knowledge.
Illumination springs from darkness and as one goes through the details of Chantout’s pieces a balance is found. Where there is darkness there are also corners that are illuminated; corners where artists like Chantout, and the likes of him over the centuries, have found themselves standing to illuminate the path for the rest of us.
Don’t search for clear answers in a painting, enjoy the emotions it yields within you. The above piece Oriental Princess (122 x 100 cm) is but one of many of Chantout’s pieces that will generate discourse in the minds of viewers.
Anyone entering Dar Al Anda, before Chantout’s Illuminations exhibition wraps on April 25, will come across a torrent of colors and lines that carry within their folds a lot of passion and interpretations that will stir ones’ imagination.
For more information about Dar Al-Anda go to http://www.daralanda.com
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The text pointer flashed a couple of times before he started typing.
Two years passed since he last wrote a professional art review, a review that used to be published in The Star on a weekly basis; a review that used to be edited. He was edited by three individuals. The one he loved most passed away a few months ago. Rest in peace Abu Hassan.
In 2003 I joined The Star weekly as an intern. My dear father went with me. I managed to get a shot at writing an art review of a botanical exhibition at The Instituto Cervantes in Amman. It was a successful piece even though the exhibition and the description of the pieces were in Spanish. They were impressed and I started getting paid on a freelance basis. After a few weeks I managed to convince the editor that I would be able to write cinema reviews. I was given a column and was asked to come up with a name. Cinerama was born. After a year I got the job and I was a staff writer. Why a year? That’s another story for another blog post.
The above few lines demonstrate how I felt as I wrote this review after three years of not writing any. It only took me a moment to decide. I was outside Dar Al-Anda running an errand.
“It has been so long. Don’t you miss immersing yourself in art? Go in!” I thought to myself. It was quite an emotional experience that reminded me of the eight years I’ve spent visiting art galleries in my Amman part of my work as a journalist; an experience I loved.
Hopefully I will get back to doing this more often ;-})