‘The Forest’ by Omar Fakhoury at Marfa’ Projects

Marfa’ Projects presents a solo show by Omar Fakhoury titled ‘The Forest’. ‘The Forest’ comprises portraits of locations and plant species from the artist’s childhood forest in Beit Chabab, Mount Lebanon. It began with a desire to revisit a specific rock, evoking nostalgic memories of play and hideouts. This rock, resembling a terrace from above and an open mouth below, was deemed the heart of the forest by Fakhoury.  Revisiting it after 25 years the artist found the encounter overwhelming, akin to stepping through a portal.
Omar Fakhoury, Sunday Afternoon, 2024, Acrylic on linen, 180 x 200

Painting the forest became a compelling urge for the artist, leading to frequent returns to the site. The boundary between the studio and the forest became blurred, as the artist lost track of the centre and periphery. Each visit felt like a journey through abstract fragments of memory, where familiar scents and discoveries transported him to the primordial state. The exhibition serves as a recollection of the artist’s childhood playground and teenage years. The exhibition is a process of repainting the artist’s initial artworks, capturing the changes in the forest over time. Comparing old and current photographs reveals how wilderness has reclaimed the space, with the human presence diminishing.

Omar Fakhoury, By The River, 2024, Acrylic on linen, 98 x 98 cm

The paintings in the exhibition are portraits, capturing immediate and intimate connections with the forest’s sites. Each site holds emotional significance, from sheltering spots like “Hiding from the Rain” to bucolic scenes like “Sunday Afternoon.” Colloquial names like “Cow Tits” and “Jackal’s Cucumber” reflect the collective imagination that named these forms over generations. Researching and renaming plants became part of the artistic process, with some names remembered and others gathered through outreach. The artist selected names based on their poetic or playful nature, diverging from their scientific counterparts. For instance, “Wild Oat” was renamed “How Many Sins?” about a childhood game. This series, initiated in July 2023, aims to cover a one-year cycle of the forest, reflecting the ongoing nature of the artist’s visits and work. Through “The Forest,” the artist navigates the complexities of memory, identity, and transformation within his childhood landscape.

Omar Fakhoury, Vine, 2024, Acrylic on linen, 120 x 141 cm

About Omar Fakhoury

Born in 1979 in Beit Chabab, Lebanon, Omar Fakhoury is an artist whose focus lies in painting, but also video installations and site-specific urban sculptures. His artistic endeavours delve into Lebanon’s intricate political and urban landscape, particularly exploring public spaces and the symbols defining territories. Fakhoury earned a Bachelor’s degree in Painting and Drawing from the Lebanese University, followed by a Master of Fine Arts from Paris I-Sorbonne in 2004. Presently, he serves as a lecturer at the Lebanese University (IBA II), continuing to contribute to the artistic discourse while nurturing the next generation of artists.

Location: Marfa’ Projects, Beirut

Date: March 13.

Caption featured image: Omar Fakhoury, Stone, 2024, Acrylic on linen.

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