05 Mar

Italia – Italy

Arab artists between Italy and the Mediterranean
curated by Martina Corgnati
Damasco – Beirut – Cairo

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From Ghazieh, a Shiite village on the outskirts of Sidon in south Lebanon, I suddenly found myself transported to Siena in little more than the blink of an eye and at the age of a little more than eighteen. The charm of Tuscany stimulated continuous journeys in my imagination and memories if my Lebanese childhood overlapped with the sight of the streets of Florence or the clay of Siena. It was as though I were suspended outside of time. I had set aside the reality of my sad experience of the war in Lebanon to plunge into a new history, trying to absorb and learn everything about this country, it’s language, it’s history and culture. That sounds of the bells reassured my need for spirituality and often I would go to a town or countryside to meditate. After completing undergraduate studies and obtaining Italian citizenship, the contradictions and duality of identity I was living under the protection of Siena reached a broken point. I decided to pack my bags and uproot myself once more, this time to move up to Milan to work as a painter. My decision was strengthened by the meeting with Aldo Mondino, which took place at his show in Siena. Aldo, an artist of a great value and simple man, encouraged to relocate “north”. His interest in the Muslim world gave me the strength to paint what I had held in reserve in my innermost consciousness. Perhaps the tensions of the change if millennium and the clashes that continued to occur worldwide had a strong impact on me and on the environment in which I lived. Without realizing and by striving to know myself, I began to Allah. I have taken the path of the Sufi, polishing the mirror of the heart and ultimately accepting my plural identity. From this experience emerged canvas with backgrounds borrowing from the frescoes if Michelangelo and Raphael or De Chirico’s paintings of the Piazze d’Italia. In Islamic mysticism, creativity and beauty are two sublime aspects of Godhead. Making art for me today does not mean just decorating the walls of mosques or palaces of power but thinking and rethinking one’s own culture to bring about its renewal. In final analysis, Aldo Mondino and I have followed a similar path but from different starting points, and he himself recalled when presenting me to the public in Milan in 1998: “What would I do if instead of being born in Turin, I was born in Beirut? … .. ”

Ali Hassoun – Milano, dicembre 2007

Coming soon…

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