Fatima El Hajj, Le pavillon rose, 2020. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 150 x 150 cm. Courtesy of Mark Hachem

As a student and admirer of Franco-Lebanese painter Shafic Abboud, Fatima El-Hajj consistently expresses deep admiration for the works of Matisse, Bonnard, and Vuillard. With the help of this found family of impressionist painters that preceded her, Fatima El-Hajj has come to find her own path in the artistic world.

Fatima El-Hajj’s landscapes are inspired by the parks and gardens of towns she frequented during her travels through Lebanon, Yemen, Morocco, and France. The shapes, colours, and light she found in these places and in their inhabitants are ingrained in both her memory and her palette.

Fatima El Hajj, Avicenne, 2021, (triptych). Acrylic and oil on canvas, (195 x 130 cm) x 3. Courtesy of Mark Hachem
Fatima El Hajj, Avicenne, 2021,(triptych). Acrylic and oil on canvas, (195 x 130 cm) x 3. Courtesy of Mark Hachem

Mark Hachem presents Balades levantines, the artist’s personal exhibition. The exhibition is dedicated to the artist’s reflection upon and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the struggles that Lebanon has faced in recent years.

Fatima El Hajj, Elissar, 2020. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 130 x 162 cm. Courtesy of Mark Hachem
Fatima El Hajj, Elissar, 2020. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 130 x 162 cm. Courtesy of Mark Hachem

“I was in lockdown in Paris on August 4th 2020 when I heard about the explosion at the Port of Beirut. This event spurred a “profound spiritual expatriation” within me. As a result, I began to create a book of thirty pieces accompanied by various poets’ verses on the topic of Lebanon. Thus the idea to speak about Elissar was born. After having experienced the danger of the beginnings of civil war (after the death of her husband at the hands of her brother,) she decided that instead of destroying the existing civilization in Tyr, she would build a new one: Carthage.

I continued to wander through the heart of the mythology, with “Europa’s abduction” by Zeus, who in the tale transforms himself into a bull. As the story goes, Europa’s older brother Cadmus, while searching for his sister, taught the Greeks the Phoenician alphabet.

This poetic research plunged me into the mystical world of the poet Nezâmi, who travelled the world, and allowed me to create vibrantly coloured pavilions representing different countries. These instalments are inspired by Nezâmi’s fourth poem, written between 1196 and 1197, entitled “Haft Peykar,” or “the Seven Beauties.” Fatima El-Hajj

Fatima El Hajj, Le pavillon blanc, 2020. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 150 x 150 cm. Courtesy of Mark Hachem
Fatima El Hajj, Le pavillon blanc, 2020. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 150 x 150 cm. Courtesy of Mark Hachem

This exhibition is a stroll through Fatima El-Hajj’s imagined gardens, an examination of “communion between nature and the self.” A quest for latent harmonie takes spiritual form in her art. It is a journey through the East and the West where we come across enchanted castles coloured with Persian princess drawn from forgotten tales, where we meet not only erudite savants from a time long-gone such as Avicenna and Al-Jazri, but also mythological characters brought back to life in the modern world to douse the flames that burn Lebanon.

Fatima El Hajj, Bibliotheque ancienne , 2013. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 35 x 40 cm. Courtesy of Mark Hachem
Fatima El Hajj, Bibliotheque ancienne , 2013. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 35 x 40 cm. Courtesy of Mark Hachem
Fatima El Hajj, Etude pour Avicenne, 2021. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm. Courtesy of Mark Hachem
Fatima El Hajj, Etude pour Avicenne, 2021. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm. Courtesy of Mark Hachem

The exhibition is on view until the 4th of April at Mark Hachem, Paris

Info extracted from the press release.

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