Ghazi Baker at Mark Hachem

Ghazi Baker at Mark Hachem

Mark Hachem presents « Conversations », a solo exhibition by Ghazi Baker. We sat down with the artist to discuss his take on the exhibition:

Rima Nasser: Can you tell us about your inspiration for the title of your new show, “Conversations”? What kind of conversations are you exploring in your art?

Ghazi Baker: Conversations are an essential part of human communication, helping us to connect with others and grow personally and intellectually. By practicing active listening, empathy and respect for others, we can engage in productive and meaningful conversations that enrich our lives and those around us.

As an artist, I have always been fascinated by the power of conversation to connect people, to inspire, to heal, and to transform our understanding of the world. With this latest paintings series, I explore this theme through a series of vibrant and evocative works that capture the beauty and complexity of human interaction.

Each painting in this collection is a visual representation of a conversation, whether it be a deep and meaningful exchange between people, a lively and spirited debate, or a quiet and contemplative moment of reflection and more. Through the use of bold colors, dynamic brushstrokes and intricate textures, I seek to capture the energy and emotion of these interactions, inviting viewers to engage with the themes and ideas that emerge from them.

At the heart of this collection is a belief in the power of conversation to connect us as human beings. In an age of increasing polarization and division, it is all too easy to retreat into our own echo chambers and isolate ourselves from those who hold different views or beliefs. But through conversation, we can bridge these divides, find common ground, and build stronger, more resilient communities.

Ultimately, my hope is that this art show will inspire viewers to engage in meaningful conversations of their own, to listen deeply to those around them, and to embrace the transformative power of human connection.

Ghazi Baker, Why Behind My Back, 2023, Acrylic on canvas
48 4/5 × 78 7/10 in | 124 × 200 cm

RN: Many of your pieces in this exhibit seem to incorporate different shapes and textures. What kind of message are you trying to convey through your use of form?

GB: Form is the medium with which any artist communicates , it’s the primary tool of the visual artist, this series of paintings ranges from figurative\grotesque to Neo-expressionistic use of shapes and form

 

Ghazi Baker, Flabergasted, 2023, Acrylic and charcoal on canvas, 56 7/10 × 42 1/2 in | 144 × 108 cm

RN: Your work often explores themes related to identity and personal history. How have your experiences influenced your art, and how do you hope your viewers will connect with these themes?

GB: Three years ago (2020), during covid lockdowns, I was amazed at how much I personally missed human interaction, conversations with friends, stimulating interactions. For someone who usually prefers being alone with my thoughts this was quite the revelation and it was the seed that triggered the theme of the show.

 

RN: The pieces in this exhibit seem to span a range of mediums, What challenges did you encounter in working with such diverse materials, and how did you approach each piece differently?

GB: This show is unique for me in the sense that I had no barriers with regards to mediums, support and format, or a combination of all , I also, for the first in my solo show, displayed works on paper which were studies of facial expressions and characters definition for the paintings and these were done using china and India ink , with oil and soft pastels on specialty paper . Another first for me was the use of Cobra water mixable oil paint which initially posed a high learning curve for me but was very satisfying in terms of results and it gave me the capability to safely use oil and acrylic paints in my work.

Those experimental techniques and medium expanded my creative process, for instance new supports like oil on aluminum boards could be the beginning of a new series of paintings in the future.

 

Ghazi Baker, Diane, 2023, Acrylic and oil on aluminium panel
29 1/2 × 19 7/10 in | 75 × 50 cm

RN: Can you walk us through the process of creating one of the pieces in this exhibit? How did you come up with the concept, and what was your creative process like in bringing it to life?

GB: It is hard for me to pick one artwork to talk about, but for the sake of this interview I will talk about ”Erudite” , the painting selected for the show invitation .

“Erudite” portrays a scene of conversation among a group of individuals, depicted in a figurative style. The painting captures the essence of a lively and engaging discussion, with each person contributing their own unique perspective and insight.

The use of figurative style allows for a deeper exploration of the complexities and nuances of this intellectual exchange. Each figure is depicted in a distinct and expressive manner, reflecting their individuality and intellectual prowess. The composition of the painting is carefully arranged to convey the dynamic interplay between the various participants, with subtle gestures and expressions conveying the depth of their engagement. Or does it ?

The use of grotesque sometime comical characters, deconstructed and disjointed, conversely conveys the possibility of a pseudo intellectual exchange , left to the viewer’s discretion.

At its core, this work is a celebration of the power of ideas and discourse to inspire and transform. It is an invitation to the viewer to engage with the painting and to participate in the conversation, to be moved by the passion and intellect of those depicted within it.

Ultimately, my hope is that this painting will inspire viewers to pursue their own intellectual journeys and to engage in meaningful conversations with others, in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding.

Ghazi Baker, Good Weather We’re Having, 2022, Acrylic and charcoal on canvas, 46 1/2 × 78 7/10 in | 118 × 200 cm

RN: Your work often incorporates a lot of intricate details. How do you balance these details with the overall composition of the piece, and what do you hope viewers take away from the experience of examining your work up close?

GB: In another work, the centerpiece of the show, (it’s not you, It’s me) is a painting that took almost a year to complete, for a few months it was kept aside as I worked on other paintings because it visually was out of balance, I just couldn’t figure out how to correctly finish it, until one day I had a “eureka” moment , I added luggage and a 4×6 cm painted red fragile sticker in one corner that just completely stabilized the aesthetics of the 300×200 cm painting . I hope viewers take away one thing from my work it’s that the sarcasm (the message) is in the details .

 

Ghazi Baker, Are You Talking To Me, 2023, Acrylic, oil, and charcoal on canvas, 38 3/5 × 29 9/10 in | 98 × 76 cm

RN: In your opinion, what makes art such a powerful medium for exploring complex themes and ideas? How do you see your work contributing to broader conversations about identity, history, and culture?

GB: Art is a reflection of society, it’s been said over and over . I personally believe art, if done well, is is the truest representation of civilization, at least the most honest . Although the language used in my work is predominantly universal, there is an undeniable societal influence in my thematic, the lack of truthful conversation is at the source of most the the country’s enormous problems, as well as the middle east’s in general.

 

RN: What are some of the challenges and rewards of exhibiting your work in Beirut specifically? How do you hope your art will resonate with audiences here, and what do you think makes the art scene in this city unique?

GB: Beirut is always a bitter sweet city to exhibit in, after 4 years of exhibiting internationally in cities like Miami, Paris, New York and Istanbul, it feels good to come back home for a solo show, the public’s response is always more rewarding when it’s your country. Audiences in Lebanon do tend to be more polarized, they generally either love your work or hate it, I’m lucky a majority of my collectors fall in the first category, this is part of what makes the art scene in Beirut unique, people voice their opinions loudly and unabashedly.

 

RN: What do you hope viewers take away from your new show at Mark Hachem Gallery, and what do you have planned for your next artistic endeavor?

GB: If there’s one take away from this show it’s the seriousness of the work, the happiness of the aesthetics and the depth of research on the subject matter . I’m hoping to take a quick brake and then start a new series for Art Miami by the end of this year.

 

Conversations, Ghazi Baker

Location: Mark Hachem Gallery

Duration: April 27 – May 20, 2023

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