By Mudassir Raja
For painting, she trusts her eyes more than her hands. She feels life is very dynamic and the art in its all manifestations is a reflection of life.
Sara Abou Mrad is a young, educated, talented and inspiring Lebanese artist. Coming from an artistic family, she is fast finding her feet on the international art scene.
Sara received a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the Lebanese University in 2009. She has been a fine arts teacher since 2009 at Sainte-Anne des soeurs de Besançon in Beirut.
Her artistic creations have won her many awards at a very young age. The awards include the Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna Award in Italy in 2017, Beirut Design Week drawing competition in 2015, Fabriano Art competition in 2015, Etching artwork published by Fadi Mogabgab Contemporary Art Gallery in 2015, and the Goethe Institute for the Interpretation of Music into Painting both in 2011 and 2013. She has also participated in many solo and group exhibitions in Lebanon and abroad.
Sara was recently in Doha where she is going to display her works with other artists. Community caught up with Sara to glean her creative strains and critical thinking.
Sara carries an artistic background. Her grandfather is an artist and sculptor. Her father is in the business of designing furniture. Her mother makes drawings on silk. She has two brothers and a sister. One of her brothers is an architect and the other an interior designer and photographer.
“I have been living in an artistic ambience. I used to look at my father working at his workshop. My father used to tell me that if I wanted to become an artist, I have to do things perfectly. He used to ask for my opinion about colours in fabrics. I spent all my childhood drawing. I feel that I always wanted to become an artist.
“When I was going for university education, I asked my parents that I wanted to take up fine arts as my major. My parents were okay because they were already artists. Parents, in general, advise against the idea of studying fine arts with the argument that it will not bring good money.”
Sara has created a character in her artworks called “Sleeper.” Sleeper collections, since 2013, are inspired by her genuine vision of life and energy. She has been studying and decrypting movement and dynamism in her artwork through “Sleepers.” She uses mixed media, colour shades, and light effects, in order to highlight the hectic way of living and instability in life through her poetic acrobatic compositions.
“I was inspired by the way I sleep. When I sleep I keep my arms close to my body and do not move them. That is why you will see my sleeper does not have arms. Only the legs are moving. My works ignore facial expressions, emotions and arm gestures. I focus on body language to express freedom within constraints. Through my artworks, I tell the way I live and the way I see life.”
She uses a range of raw materials that reaches a maturity with time, such as wool, wood, metal, aluminium, silver, resin, fabric, focusing on the lapse of time, and to highlight the preceded time. “I use the mixed media that I saw my dad using. For me, the texture is very important for the movement. For every work, I put different material to put more life in my work. I use colour shades and light effects in order to highlight our hectic life style. I show how unstable life is.”
She calls her work as figurative abstract because there are many small characters. “Sometimes you will see a lot of colours. It depends on the idea I am trying to represent. In my collection of ‘Dancing Sleepers’ you will see lots of colours because I can translate music into colours. Music is about movements. You can see movement in music notes. I translate the notes in colours. Every colour represents some kind of energy for me.”
Since her fine arts studies, Sara has been inspired by Spanish surrealist legend Salvador Dali. “Especially, I can naturally relate to the dreamscapes in his art. Juan Miro’s bold black graphics impressed me and influenced the evolution of my Chinese ink artwork technique. I am also influenced in my technique by Lebanese artist Helen Khal, who plays on light and dark levels and nuances in her paintings through abstract and geometrical forms.” The artist is inspired by nature. “I think the elements in nature move all the time and they continue to grow.”
Sara believes that the art should come out straight from the heart of the painter. She thinks that an artist is inspired by things around him or her. The artist follows the old masters and then creates his or her own art piece.
Being an art teacher, Sara has pieces of advice for aspiring artists. “If you really want to become an artist, you need to follow your dream. Dream big to become a small artist. I tell my students to follow their own emotions and feelings to become an artist. Art is very much related to emotions. It is a long way but those who believe in themselves can achieve their dream.”
She added: “It is very hard in the beginning to be an artist because art will not earn you money. You need to work other than art to earn some money. Little by little you can grow and you will start earning money.”
Sara agrees that a majority of classical artists are men. “In the beginning, women were not allowed to pursue art. But lately, we have started to see women making a big name in art. I think women have special message to put forward through their art works. It has become a way for women to communicate their feelings to others. A woman can show her strength through expressive art.”
In future, Sara wants to see her “Sleeper” character communicating with everyone. “I want to have my art works in parks, galleries and museums around the world. For me, art is a form of communication. I want to communicate through my artworks.”
Sara has been a frequent visitor to Doha. She is preparing to show her “Sleeper” work at Katara in the coming months. She is impressed by the way Qatar appreciates art. She is happy to see the unique collection by different international artists at Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Arts. “I am amazed to see the beautiful architects of the new museum. Qatar is booming in art and infrastructure.”
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