Hello friends of Galerie Kuchling!
Semaan Khawam (*1974) was born in Damascus, Syria, and has Armenian origins. Since he was 14 years old, Khawam has lived in Beirut, Lebanon, where he was granted the Lebanese citizenship in 1994. At the age of 18, Khawam tried to run away from military service. During his attempt to escape he stepped on a landmine and lost his leg but gained freedom as an artist. The self-taught artist is a man of many talents: in addition to being a visual artist, Semaan Khawam is also a prop designer for film and theatre and writes scripts and poetry. His art has been exhibited in Lebanon, the Gulf region and Europe. In spring 2017, Semaan Khawam presented his artworks, with the photographer Giles Duley, in the exhibition Shame and Soul, at the Imago Mundi – Lucian Benetton Collection in Palermo, Italy.
Kevork Mourad (*1970) was born in Qamishli, a town in the north east of Syria, he has Armenian origins. The artist graduated with a MFA at the Yerevan Institute of Fine Arts in Armenia. Today he lives in New York but has never forgotten where he is from. In his performances Kevork Mourad creates spontaneous drawings and paintings in cooperation with musicians and dancers, in which the audience becomes part of the creative process. Mourad also constructs multi-layered works on paper and directs films. In 2016, he received the film prize of the Robert Bosch Stiftung for international cooperation to create the short animation “Four Acts for Syria“. Kevork Mourad has performed at the Nara Museum in Japan, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, among many others.
The current exhibition at Galerie Kuchling presents the different artistic approaches of the two artists in a fascinating dialogue. Semaan Khawam uses his work to draw attention to political contradictions, social injustice and other uncomfortable realities. His painted alter ego “birdman“ traces his loneliness and restlessness which, simultaneously, hold great artistic power and hope. Kevork Mourad creates drawings and paintings that are influenced by Arabic calligraphy. They show haunting memories and visions of past times, places, and humans which extend into our very present. Both artists are connected through a powerful artistic voice that stems from their biographical roots and which witnesses, reminds, and warns – and finally searches to liberate itself on canvas and paper from any exterior enforcement.
photos: Alexander Bondar
Interviews with Kevork Mourad & Semaan Khawam
videos: Diana Vishnevskaya & Igor Zwetkow