‘Sunday in the Park with Tom’ by Marwan Chamaa at Mark Hachem Gallery Beirut

Marwan Chamaa, “Kodak”, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 88 x 124 cm (34.65 x 48.82 inch)

On show at Mark Hachem Gallery Beirut is ‘Sunday in the Park with Tom’ a show by Marwan Chamaa. Marwan Chamaa’s artistic journey took him through esteemed institutions such as the American University of Beirut, Beirut University College (now LAU), and the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC (now GW – Corcoran School of the Arts & Design). Throughout his career, Chamaa’s art has been a reflection of his unique perspective on the world. He draws inspiration from his immediate surroundings and personal experiences, using the physical world as his muse.

In his “Sunday in the Park with Tom” series, Marwan’s focus is on celebrating the beauty of life through an illustrated letter addressed to someone named Tom. This heartfelt letter is written by an individual embarking on a new life in a foreign city, leaving behind their homeland. It brims with vivid colours and excitement for this fresh start.

Marwan frequently incorporates globally recognised brands into his artwork, employing various techniques and drawing inspiration from fellow artists. This fusion of well-known logos into his series serves to emphasise the significant economic incentives driving many to migrate.

In “Sunday in the Park with Tom,” Chamaa also integrates elements from the work of Tom Wesselmann into some of the paintings. The choice of Tom Wesselmann as an artistic muse for this series was not solely based on admiration but also because Wesselmann, like Chamaa, incorporated elements from other artists into his work to effectively convey his message. It’s noteworthy that Wesselmann himself drew substantial inspiration from Henri Matisse and Paul Gauguin.

Marwan Chamaa, “Marlboro”, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 91 x 122 cm (35.83 x 48.03 inch)

‘Dear Tom:

I trust everything is going well on your end. Life has been a whirlwind since my move, with so much unfolding in recent months – from the economic uncertainties to the challenges of the pandemic. Amidst it all, I’ve hardly had a moment to sit and write. Now that I’m enjoying a sunny day in the park, here’s an update on what has been going on in the past weeks.

My first order of business upon arrival was a visit to the Apple Store, where I couldn’t resist picking up the latest iPhone, I can see you rolling your eyes while you are reading this. I know, you are not impressed, but I’ve been yearning for that multi-lens camera! I immediately put my new device to work to search for a real estate agent to secure a flat to rent, and surprisingly, I found one in record time. I bought all my furniture from IKEA, YES IKEA… I can hear your thoughts on that but I didn’t have much choice actually because all the other companies were facing supply chain issues during the pandemic.

Next week, DHL will be delivering the TV I snagged on sale from Amazon. I simply must have a large screen to keep up with NASA’s latest expeditions. Some habits die hard, and I still relish watching things on a grand scale. While settling in, I cracked open a Pepsi, a gift from my Russian neighbor, welcome to the United Nations of America. I’ve shared plenty of photos of my fabulous surroundings on Facebook, and surprisingly, even the haters have been hitting the ‘like’ button.

I recently attended a birthday event at the modern art museum and brought along a lovely painting-by-numbers kit as a gift. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s an appropriate present. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention the mesmerising polyptych masterpiece that graced the museum’s entrance (attached a photo for you to see).

By the way, KFC no longer serves those skinless chicken bites you used to enjoy. Remember that Shell gas station selling Arabic-packaged Agip motor oil next to Pizza Hut? It’s gone, replaced by a vintage shop selling Pan Am, Datsun, GE, Marlboro, Kodak, and other nostalgic memorabilia. But the Michelin sign still adorns the building’s wall.

Tom, it’s beautiful here, you should come visit me soon.

Love, M’

Location: Mark Hachem Gallery, Beirut

Dates: 12 – 26 October, 2023

Marwan Chamaa, McDo



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