Interview with Raghad Mardini at HOME: Through the Artists’ Eyes

On the 10/10/2020 Raghad Mardini, civil engineer and founder of Litehouse Gallery, talks to us about her inspiration behind her exhibition ‘HOME: Through the Artists’ Eyes’.

She explains how the idea for this project came after the devastating explosion in Beirut that occurred on the 4th August, 2020. The homelessness that Raghad had experienced herself made her realise the importance of the feeling of what home really is… is it the place, the people, the smell or simply just where we grew up?

A main objective of Litehouse Gallery is to build bridges between the UK and the Middle East and to create awareness and spread ideas about all topics related to being displaced, living in exile, identity, belonging and security. Thirty-five artworks from fourteen different artists were displayed at the exhibition, twelve of whom are Syrian, one of whom is Egyptian and one of whom is British.

Chris Ward at HOME: Through the Artists’ Eyes

Chris Ward exhibited his work at Litehouse Gallery’s pop-up exhibition HOME: Through the Artists’ Eyes on the 10/10/2020.

In this short interview, he talks about his concept of ‘the quality of the artificial still life’ and how he captures the formation of still life as it is, as the life has decided to be, rather than how the photographer has directed it to be.

Chris Ward at 'HOME: The Exhibition'

Interview with Bahram Hajou

On a WhatsApp video call, internationally celebrated artist Bahram Hajou showed me around his spacious studio, flooded with light on a bright morning in Munster in Germany.  Hundreds of completed paintings, some with writing on the back, and blank stretched canvas waiting for the artists brush, face the wall.

A single unfinished painting faces the artist on the wall, near a large table full of colors and brushes. I could almost smell the fresh paints in the studio, classical music played loud, and the artist dressed in a white gown stained with colors wrapped a brown scarf around his neck for warmth.

He smoked his cigarette, his eyes shining through the screen. Hajou spoke English with a German accent, resorting to Arabic when he could only express an idea or emotion in his native tongue.

R.M.  You work seems to show people shrouded in the fog and uncertainty of tomorrow. Do they express a mistrust of the world, or the emotional drama of being human?

B.H. It is an emotional drama. I was married to a woman, she left me after 23 years, this was a big trauma and has affected me massively.  I am an immigrant; I came to Europe a long time ago on my own. I had no money, no one to help me, I passed through a very difficult time and this is reflected by the loneliness of the figures in my paintings.

R.M.   Their eyes – what are they looking at?

B.H. The eyes are looking at you, gazing directly at the viewer, they follow you wherever you move. They are asking you to interact. The viewer becomes part of my work of art.

R.M. Besides the artist, a work of art is also made by the recipient, reader, viewer or listener.  It is always a dialogue between artist and audience. On some of your works I notice you’ve painted over previous images. Is it your intention to delete or cancel out characters? Or perhaps free the painting from previous experiences?

B.H. I paint on previous figures to erase their influence on the moment. Only one or two figures remain in my paintings, talking with body language, which is better than words.

R.M.  The body language of the figures creates an intense and mysterious atmosphere.  How do you relate to the male and female bodies?

B.H. Body language is very important for me.  Many times words are not enough or they can be misleading, but body posture conveys real emotions and is always pure and authentic.

R.M. Your landscape paintings are disturbing and powerful, with an incredible expression of darkness and light, and an uproar of energy.  I feel they hint at horizons and perspectives that can lead each of us beyond the miseries of life, and the often too miserable state of humankind as a whole.   Paintings such as Antenna to Heaven leave a space to the viewer for imagination.  Is it an invitation to us to slow down?

B.H. I was inspired by the clouds, I often watch the clouds, they form different shapes which leaves you to imagine different forms.  In my other landscape artworks, I put only two trees, a minimalist approach, its quiet, peaceful and pleasant.

R.M.  How can people find out more about your work?

B.H. Last year my work was included in a major catalogue by Franz-Hitze-Haus Gallery in Münster, and this year one by the Pryzmet Gallery in Krakow with an essay by Professor Stanislaw Tobisz.  There is also a recent beautiful publication called Kunstzene Münster published by Tecklenborg, with me and my work on the cover. The authors are two of Germany’s most important art critics, Ulrich Karst and Ilse Wecker.

 

 

 

Welcome to Litehouse Gallery

Welcome to Litehouse Gallery, a unique channel introducing Syrian art to London.

Being the only gallery showcasing contemporary artists from Syria through exhibitions and events, we see it as our duty to be constantly engaging new ideas, perspectives and audiences whilst bridging Syrian and UK cultures.

Our art residency in Lebanon provides us with that first hand contact to emerging artists which is vital for our mission.

Litehouse Gallery aims to act as the main hub for Syrian artists in London and a beacon of freedom of expression.

Interview with Aamer Husain

Aamer Husain– short story writer, essayist and novelist- talks to us about where home is to him. Maida Vale has been his home for 43 years. It is his village, everything he is used to, everything that brings him comfort. Little Venice is his home now where he resides. Whilst he still feels the desire to return to Pakistan, London has evolved into the nerve centre of his day to day life and it seems unlikely that he would feel the need to relocate to anywhere else in the near future.

Interview with Noha Zayed

Noha Zayed, photographer and creative entrepreneur, tells us what home means to her and how it is expressed through her work.

For Noha home is a feeling; a feeling of familiarity and a place of earliest memories and understanding.
Do you ever find yourselves feeling homesick for your country?
Noha misses how she is forced to constantly construct meaning of her surroundings and the confrontation she feels when there, primarily caused by the contrast of the sacred and the profane. Contrary to the UK, in Egypt spirituality weighs heavy in the air.

Noha goes on to explain to us the meaning behind her works featured at HOME- the exhibition.

Syria: Stories Through Artist’s Eyes

Litehouse Gallery organised an exhibition in London in February 2018 at the Art Gallery of the American School of London in Saint John’s Wood.

The exhibition presented the works of fourteen emerging Syrian Artists, a testimony of their talents, personal grief and resilience and the power of human soul to hope and love in the darkest abyss.

The exhibition was curated by director Raghad Mardini.