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UNDERGROWTH, 2014

Mixed Media, pigmented print on paper, fresco technique


Ghaddar embeds photographs into plaster using an emulsion image-transfer process. These images are then gouged, broken—their fragility is illustrated—then they are mounted onto wood panel. One way to read these works are literally as the plaster wall and snapshot combined, then framed.


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Q:
What is the role of the trace in this series? Is the trace distinct from the scar?

A:
Time, space and materiality are fragmented in this work. The image is in transfer from a state (medium and chemistry) to another. Some details are hidden when others are revealed, and sometimes forced. Disappearance, appearance and birth are a cycle of a trace. And I would like to think my city, or any other imagery, under such state. Therefore these works are presented as a porous body. One that absorbs and allow things, inside out. The intention is not to represent or mimic the reality or body of a scar, but to explore the phenomena of how traces are made, and use it to create a dialogue with surfaces.

Q:
What is the physical process to make this work? How is this process conceptually significant?

A:
This work was created using fresco technique, handmade limestone and photographic prints. The images are created through transfer from a medium to another. Beside my personal fascination with frescoes and their anthropological context, working with such organic method allows me to expand on my themes, especially when processing the idea of trace and the fragmentation of time and space. Because Fresco is a platform where different temporalities meet. There is the time of the initiation of the surface, the construction; and another time, with age, of the fall of the surface; the remains. There’s also the time of the transfer, from a wet fresh surface to one that is solid, almost immortal. Combining fresco works with other medias put me in direct confrontation, and in dialogue with time. Therefore it echoes so many notions I would like to explore.

Q:
How do these works touch the City, Beirut?

A:
These works are intimate and layered. They’re a pure work of construction. They remind me of how a wall is made, or how a wall can fall. And here I’m a builder and a digger. And its through these strata that I would like to approach Beirut the city, or any other “field”, whether a geographical or an emotional one, as a skin, a breathing porous surface, always ready to absorb and to spit out.


Chafa Ghaddar was born in the south of Lebanon and is currently based in Beirut. She earned her Bachelor degree in Fine Arts in 2007, and her Masters degree in Visual Art in 2009 from the university of ALBA, Beirut (Académie Libanaise de Beaux Arts). In 2012, she attended an intensive course in Fresco and traditional painting technique in Florence, Italy. Painting, mainly murals, occupies a major part of her professional and artistic practice. She has since been developing a freelance career in wall painting and surface finishing, in which she tries to merge the practice of decorative painting with contemporary art. In her artistic projects, she attempts to merge natural painting techniques in contemporary practices such as exploring Fresco with media such as photography and as site-specific installations. She has participated in several collective exhibitions such as: “Exposure 2012" at the Beirut Art Center, "On Fleeting Grounds" at Galerie Janine Rubeiz in January 2013, "Journeys through our Heritage" at Beirut Exhibition Center in July 2013, “Nostalgic Imagery” at Galerie Janine Rubeiz in September 2014 and “L’espace de la feuille” at Galerie Tanit in November 2015. As winner of the Boghossian Art Prize for painting in 2014, she was artist in residence at the Villa Empain, home of the Boghossian foundation in Brussels in October and November 2015.

Curator Natasha Marie Llorens wrote about Ghaddar's work in a tangentially related essay for Ibraaz entitled "Absent Beirut." It is available online here.