Mark Hachem Gallery Beirut: ‘Trees’ by Michel Harmouch

MARK HACHEM GALLERY-BEIRUT is pleased to present ‘Trees’ the contemporary artworks of Lebanese artist Michel Harmouch. The exhibition covers the aesthetic proposal of trees in the artists’ homeland, Lebanon. The featured themes range between the artists’ natural environment his personal surrounding’s and the everyday objects that reminisce the memories of yesterday. For millennia the tree has been a symbol of life. Celebrated by most ancient civilizations, the tree has stood for the center of the cosmos and the origin of creation. Represented throughout art and literature, trees feature in the earliest photographs from the 1840s as well as in contemporary works today. Harmouch’s paintings reveal various artistic responses to the perennial subject. Paintings of forests and nature, these images explore the tree in its many connotations—as an evocative emblem, and vital evidence of the natural world in which we live. The exhibition will be on view until November 27, 2012

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Michel Harmouch was born in Beirut in 1925, and grew up in a fast-changing city where plenty was to be achieved. He was raised by his father, a civil engineer and contractor who was involved in the building of the first Lebanese Parliament, the National Museum and the Municipality of Beirut. His father was to have a profound influence on his future work. The Second World War prevented him from leaving the country for the possibility of studying abroad, as was the custom for students of his background. During this time, Michel attended law school and became well known for his student portraits, drawn during lectures.

In 1946, he left Beirut for Paris, to attend L’Ecole Nationale Superieur des Arts Decoratifs, to study interior design. His particular interest in painting flourished during these years and artists such as Picasso and Matisse became an influence to his work and colour palette. Despite his passion, his orthodox and conservative family disapproved of his wish to be a painter and Michel consequently chose to become an interior designer, a career choice that satisfied both his family and his artistic ambitions.

After finishing his studies in Paris, Michel returned to Beirut and began to build his interior design practice. He presented his first projects to a Middle Eastern clientele, and quickly became known as the most influential interior designer of the area. Eventually, he forged an international reputation, as his interior design appealed to a wide Middle Eastern and European Market. His clientele included, amongst others, King Hussein of Jordan, King Faysal of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait Airways with its Boeing fleet. For this prestigious clientele, Michel created ingenious designs, such as furniture sculpted from Plexiglas.

Michel opened ‘Perspectives’, his first design store in which he sold a carefully selected range of lighting, furniture, fabrics, and design objects. He later opened ‘Retrospectives’, where he sold antiques, which were collected from his travels all over the world.

While furthering his design practice, the few hours spent painting in his studio remained the favourite part of his day.

In 1975, the civil war broke out in Lebanon, making it difficult for him to continue working in a violence-driven community. Michel moved to Paris with his wife Jacqueline and his children Halim and Martine, where they lived for a number of years. He continued his career in Paris. He was appointed by the bank BCC to design its branch in London and by Hilton International to design a number of its hotels.

Upon his return to Beirut in 1988, Michel re-opened his interior design practice and resumed his numerous activities. His son Halim, an architect educated in Paris, joined his practice. During these years after the civil war, Beirut was undergoing a phase of reconstruction and Michel left his son to participate actively in the design of important buildings in the centre of the city as well as its outskirts.

In October 2004, Michel handed over the reins of his lifetime achievements to his son and decided to dedicate himself to his passion; his painting. He began to exhibit his work and his first solo exhibition sold out on the first evening. He painted a series of large oil canvases of some of the interior designs he had created during his lifetime. He played with perspective in his paintings in the same manner that he had played with perspective within a room.

Michel Harmouch is presenting a series of his works on trees, which were inspired by the views from the windows in his house in Faqra, Lebanon.

Mark Hachem Gallery opens Mon- Sat from 10am- 8pm

 

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