‘The Passion of Colours’ by Leyla Nabbout Wakim at Beit Beirut

‘The Passion of Colours’ a solo show by Leyla Nabbout Wakim opens at Beit Beirut on the 4th of January and is on until the 9th. Curated by Kalim Bechara and Randa Sadaka the show’s exclusive representation is the Kalim Art Space.

Leyla Nabbout Wakim, Étendue de Terre, Oil on Jute, 74 x 70 cm. Courtesy of the Kalim Art Space

Leyla Nabbout Wakim’s early paintings capture nature through a neoclassical approach, spanning from 1963 to 1967. From 1968 to 1973, the artist produced works with a knife, unveiling various themes such as silhouettes, seascapes, and trees. From 1992 to 2022, fauvism govern her paintings. Highly textured whimsical abstractions, resembling a travel journal of her emotions and experiences. Her artworks stand out due to the use of a vigorous palette.

Her paintings reveal themselves in coloured layers, diffusing light. Grasping the force of nature in situ, the environment is captured in the moment with an inherently intimate touch related to the medium. Her use of the neoclassical and then abstract register mainly acknowledges vanity, the botanical world, landscapes, and architectural heritage. The visible brushstrokes, impastos, and line treatments make the colours in her paintings resonate with form, introducing a unifying aesthetic.

Leyla Nabbout Wakim, Champs Fertile, Oil on Jute, 74 x 70 cm. Courtesy of the Kalim Art Space

The artist is known for her application of tempera, primitive batik, a painting process in which the binder is an emulsion containing water and oily substances, such as egg. In the 20th century, artists like Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Jackson Pollock notably used the technique. The results offer fluid, transparent paintings. Wakim’s gesture is nervous and compact, inspired by the staggered life of her country, Lebanon. Her expressive brush appears as a metaphor planting a pretext setting for the exploration of the imaginary to appeal to the collective unconscious; asserting her intimate relationship with the natural world.

Seeking a natural support, Wakim painted on jute canvas like the painters of her time. She also elevated wood, playing with the material and emphasising its small marks of wear, veins, and relief. Inspired by the flora of Lebanon, her oil paintings enhance colour in an interplay between figuration and abstraction.

Leyla Nabbout Wakim, Perspectives Iodée, Oil on Jute, 74 x 70 cm. Courtesy of the Kalim Art Space

About Leyla Nabbout Wakim

Born in Beirut in 1940, Leyla Nabbout Wakim received her education at the Franciscan Sisters of Beirut and furthered her studies at the Italian cultural center Dante Alighieri. From 1958 to 1962, her teacher was the artist Guvder, a painter, sculptor, and draftsman deeply committed to art. During this period, Leyla embraced music, dedicating six years to classical guitar under Anastasi’s guidance. Engaging in various artistic pursuits, she was mentored by Russian painter Michel Horoche from 1960 to 1963, learning techniques like tempera, mixing pigments with egg. Exhibiting extensively in Lebanon, Wakim, explores different stylistic periods from neoclassical to fauvist. Initially driven by an idealised form and a unified colour palette, she transitions from brush to knife, opting for a gradual dissolution of form.

Location: Beit Beirut, Sodeco Square

Dates: January, 4 – 9, 2024




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