‘Dew Drops’ by Seta Manoukian at Marfa’

Seta Manoukian, Life Delights... (2016), 127 x 66 cm. Acrylic paint on canvas
Seta Manoukian, Life Delights… (2016), 127 x 66 cm. Acrylic paint on canvas

Marfa’ presents the first solo exhibition in 21 years of pioneering Lebanese artist Seta Manoukian. Titled “Dew Drops”  the exhibition opened on June 25th and is on until September 2024. Seta Manoukian showcases works from the past two decades, marking her first exhibition in Lebanon. The featured collection spans various series, all connected by themes that have permeated her career.

After relocating to Los Angeles in 1985, an environment dominated by freeways and urban sprawl, Manoukian sought solace in nature. This shift led her to explore subjects like body fluids (blood), eggs, roses, and bread. Viewing nature as a continuous cycle of life and death, her work began to reflect her deepening commitment to Buddhism, balancing art with spiritual practice. Fertile eggs multiply within vibrant structures, some cracking to signify lost potential life. Blood spirals and flows within forms, representing life, violence, and death in unison.

Seta Manoukian, 1 (1997), 76 x 57 cm. Mixed media on paper.
Seta Manoukian, 1 (1997), 76 x 57 cm. Mixed media on paper.

Manoukian invites visitors to reflect on Rumi’s quote: “You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the entire ocean in a drop.” She encourages viewing her paintings with intuition, self-awareness, and a turn towards one’s own consciousness.

Duality, balance, and movement are recurring themes in Manoukian’s art. Heavy rocks, supported by the unexpected strength of hair, evoke a sense of suspension, balancing heaviness and lightness. The Fluid series challenges perceptions of time and space, leaving viewers uncertain if the fluids flow upwards or downwards. Through this exhibition, Manoukian offers a contemplative journey into the delicate interplay of nature, spirituality, and the essence of existence.

Seta Manoukian, Be present together... (2016), 42 x 101 cm. Acrylic paint on canvas.
Seta Manoukian, Be present together… (2016), 42 x 101 cm. Acrylic paint on canvas.

About Seta Manoukian

Seta Manoukian – Ani Pema Drolma (b. 1945) is a Lebanese painter of Armenian descent. She was a prominent figure in the burgeoning Beirut art scene of the late 60s. In 1975, just as she began teaching at the Lebanese University in Beirut, the civil war broke out in Lebanon. In 1985, she moved to Los Angeles, where she continued her work as an artist.

In 2000, she joined a Buddhist Theravada Temple in Los Angeles, and in 2005, she was ordained as a Buddhist nun in Sri Lanka. After a 10-year hiatus devoted entirely to her Buddhist practice, Seta Manoukian, now Ani Pema Drolma, returned to painting in 2016.

Location: Marfa’ Projects, Beirut.

Dates: June 25th – September, 2024.

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