Posts Tagged ‘The Star’

Anna Cosmonauta by Sardine for Brick in the Head

So between waking up at 6:30 a.m. to host a radio show that I’ve been presenting for eight years, contemplating life; the passing away of an aunt I only knew through photographs and via telephone; drawing a heavily armed geisha; taking my lovely girl to her first day at kindergarten; submitting new t-shirt designs to Threadless; and work I find myself gazing at this screen that reflects my cyber existence and thinking of what to do next!

A lot of lessons learned today. This should be a blog entry. Maybe it is time to write my open letter to Shepard Fairey with the following title:

“Don’t You Think It Is Time For You To Renounce Your Obama ‘Hope’ Poster Mr. Fairey? He Tricked Everyone So No One Really Blames You!” Will keep you posted on this one.

On a different note dear Arabian friends who post V for Vendetta images as their profile header and banner. Do you have a clue what V stands for? V most certainly does not represent your backward thinking.

V stands for freedom. Freedom of thought, freedom of soul, freedom of sexuality and freedom of existence and since a lot of Arabs, especially the backward ones, do not believe in any of these refrain from using him as your header and banner.

If you read the comic book than you will understand the above comment. So read the comic book, understand who V is and then use his image. If you got offended by my comment than maybe you should not be following me. Piss off!

No off to do some drawing after a rather interesting life changing day. I really hate those days when they happen but then I try to do what a cat that was flung head first from the roof of a tall building would do – try to land on my fuckin’ feet. Me-ouch!

Sorry for not posting much in the past few months but it has been a crazy year. A rather good year. I will most definitely get back to blogging more. Will tell you more in another blog post; maybe when I land on my feet and dust off my clothes.

A good evening to all the bat out there!

Mike V. Derderian a.k.a Sardine

August 29, 2013

Illustration: Anna Cosmonauta by Mike V. Derderan, ink on paper

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Copies of this book that holds haunting images that found their way out of Chantout’s beautiful mind are most probably on sale.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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A footnote:

1 … 2 …  3 … 4 …

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 ;-})

 

A day in the life of … a garbage truck team

Sayyed: Hearing a thank you or a pat on the back is what keeps us going

By Mike V. Derderian

After scanning the six mirrors lining the left and right sides of the truck’s compartment, Khader Abu Rommaneh nodded before he started operating the trash compactor. Two men dressed in orange overalls, in the meantime, could be seen standing at the rear loading area of the truck as its lifting contraption landed a dumpster onto the asphalt surface with a thud.

A short beep followed. Abu Rommaneh turned off the compactor before shifting into first gear gunning the truck through the back streets of Shmeisani. It is 8:30 a.m. and it is time to move on to another alley to collect the trash.

Nael Al-Joughol and Omar Al-Sayyed, the two waste disposal employees at the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), had already stepped onto two foot ramps and held on to the iron handles that are fixed to the rear of the truck as it labored its way uphill.

The three hardworking men, whose first shift starts at 7:00 a.m., constitute the team that operates this colossal vehicle-cum-machine.

“I always was into heavy machinery. I used to drive a truck, which made it easier for me to learn how to operate this one,” a vigilant Abu Rommaneh told The Star; boasting that he knows his work route like the back of his hand.

Despite the air conditioning, a tangible acrid smell that Abu Romaneh didn’t seem to mind filled the driver’s compartment. Imagine how the smell is in the rear loading area, where the two men are forced to stay throughout their shift.

No sooner had he turned on the compactor, than the compartment started shaking irregularly. “It has an 8-tonne capacity. If the trash we collect is moist the compactor would work more efficiently through more piles of garbage” shouted Abu Rommaneh, always on the lookout for his two colleagues, before he added with a note of sympathy, “I try not to push those two as they are literally running the route.”

According to Abu Rommaneh there are 126 garbage trucks working round the clock in the capital Amman and its suburbs. So how does a compactor work? The rear loader compresses the waste against the moving wall of a cylinder hidden under a rectangular crate. The elliptical non-stop motion moves the waste to the front of the waste collection compartment of the vehicle.

Moments before Abu Romaneh pulled over, the two men could be seen running past the truck and reaching out to few plastic trash bins lined at the entrance of a villa; they hauled the bins and unloaded them inside the compressor in a matter of seconds.

“Look they’ve started honking [referring to three cars stuck behind the garbage truck]. We try as much as we can to avoid creating traffic congestion but people who shift the dumpsters to the left side of the street force us sometimes to park more to the left. This is the biggest problem that we face during our work, which is the result of conflicting neighbors, who keep shifting the whereabouts of the dumpsters that are in place according to municipal charted plan,” complained Abu Rommaneh, who mans the large truck with dexterity.

Another problem that faces them is solid waste like pipes, rocks, dirt, bathroom accessories and tree logs that the compactor is unable to crush. “There are special vehicles that roam the streets and clear such harmful objects out of the dumpsters,” Abu Romaneh, added, “People think the compactor can go through anything.”

As the two men stood knee deep in a pile of garbage at the loading area of a mall both men worked a total of 11 minutes. They patiently cleared bags of decaying meat and vegetables in addition to other types of soggy foodstuffs that emanated an unbearable stench—all the while without a mask.

“It is our job to keep Jordan clean,” said Joughol, who started out 12 years ago as a street sweeper and is now a truck runner, “I am content with what I do for a living.”

The three men, who head out to their families at the end of a non-stop six-and-a-half-hour shift, are proud of their jobs, which help maintain their country clean and disease free.

“Hearing a thank you or a pat on the back is what keeps us going,” stated Sayyed, who has been working for GAM for the past ten years, adding, “Surely there are people who sometimes treat us badly; however we cannot do anything but be polite and ignore their remarks and continue our work. “

The three men, Abu Rommaneh, Joughol and Sayyed, work together with an uncanny synchronization. They don’t need radio communication as their facial expressions and hand gestures are more than enough to get them through a taunting day, whether it was during hot summer mornings or freezing winter afternoons.

P.S:

A few days prior to the writing of this article Joseph Zakarian and I took a ride with the hardworking team of this garbage truck. While I sat in the front talking to Abu Rommaneh the amazing Joseph Zakarian, a great friend and a greater photographer, spent the entire time with the two GAM employees. It was one the best outings for a Day In the Life piece.

This piece/blog post is dedicated to all the hardworking waster collectors of GAM without whom are country would be flooded with garbage.

These pieces have been taken verbatim from the original edited series “A Day in the Life of a …” published in The Star Weekly on December, 16, 2004 , as I want to remind myself of my progression as a writer.

The series was edited by Walid Kalaji without whom I would have never scratched the skin to reach the mettle. I added the V a few years later as a tribute to my amazing father.

A total of 44 pieces were written. God willing I will publish one each month.