Lydia Moawad: Dancing with paintings

Moawad’s personal journey has been anything but a straight line.
by TK Maloy

1 March 2018 | 15:58

Source: by Annahar

  • by TK Maloy
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 1 March 2018 | 15:58

Lydia Moawad and friends at last year's Tokyo Art Fair. (courtersy of artist.)

BEIRUT: There is certain energy in the café– a vibration – and suddenly at the table, with a curly mane of blond hair, effervescence and aesthetic, is contemporary Lebanese artist Lydia Moawad, whose conversation is filled with laughs, color and dancing paintings.

Though her works are exhibited from Jeddah to New York, Milan, Dubai, and Paris, she is quite unpretentious in person.

Moawad’s personal journey has been anything but a straight line, during her first year in medical school while drawing the human body, she got inspired and preferred art instead. This eventually lead to thousands of sublime paintings, sculptures, multimedia, costumes, and cartoons, as part of her creative portfolio.

“Art is the world seen in its true dimension. A dimension without gravity, where there are no limits, no rules or conversations. Not even ethics. It’s a world of pure sensations free in expressions,” she noted during her recent exhibition at the Asia Contemporary Art Show.

Born in 1965, in Byblos, Moawad is the type of creative that is often described as a “polymath” – a person who has many talents that crossover into a number of genres. This is often the case with brilliant and very talented persons, whose creativity literally explodes out into the world.

She is not only a painter but also a designer, illustrator and art professor. She has gone off the canvas into television and broadcasting, working with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI) at a variety of levels, from dressing the crew to designing break-ins and –outs and even hosting a 200-episode children's art teaching program "Keef w Leish.”

There have been many turning points in the artist’s life, such as when she was accepted among the over 17,000 applications to exhibit in the famous Florence Biennial at Fortezza da Basso, something that in any artist’s life is akin to visiting a heaven of sorts.

Additionally, there have been exhibitions at the Tokyo Art Fair in Omotesando Hills, the Europe Art Fair in Rotterdam, and then just last spring, the Asia Contemporary Art Fair in Hong Kong. This list is by no means exhaustive. She has also exhibited in numerous local shows, at BIEL and elsewhere.

All these showings are points of joy and pride, but Moawad notes for Annahar that the one project she is proudest of is her illustration of UNICEF's children rights book in 2000.

“I was overwhelmed when UNICEF chose me to illustrate one of their books because there are so many illustrators that they could have chosen,” Moawad told Annahar. “This an organization for which I have great respect, it takes care of and protects children everywhere.”

From illustration and set design to sculpting and painting, for Moawad, “art is a passion, and when I stop feeling that, it’s a duty to quite.”

But the passion continues, with a deep well of inspiration sustaining her creativity, and giving her method a predetermination once she falls into the right state-of-mind.

“I take up my brush when the moment comes that I know what follows – what I am going to do,” she said, adding, “The happiest moments of my day are when I paint.”

The artist’s buyers are myriad, and Annahar recently met with devoted local fan Rosy Nassif, a senior business executive for the Lebanese division of Hewlett Packard.

Nassif first saw Moawad‘s work at a 2007 Biel art exhibition. “I said to myself – ‘I like this, this and this’" and thus was the start of acquiring works by the Byblos artist, and the forming of what has become a strong friendship.

They love to hang out.

For the life of a working artist, the daily ritual is important, and Moawad's current routine is early waking, “With a first sensation of what I will spread on my canvas.”

Going for a walk, Moawad works on “figuring out how my creativity will evolve” that day, adding “while walking through the woods, I let my imagination find the solution of my enigmatic theme of the day.”

Coming back to her residence at around 8:00 a.m., Moawad said that this is the time she is ready to jump into her workshop and begin an intensive session of work that will last for hours; often while listening to music.

Her musical choices range from classical to jazz or blues. Either sound or sometimes just silence, the objective is to dive into a zone “where time and limitation don’t exist.”

In Moawad’s studio, a type of mediation takes place, looking at a blank canvas as if it is an untold story. Then something begins to emerge, perhaps an image of a person, animal, or just an emotion, she begins to outline the work and takes color from her palate to make her vision vibrant.

“I allow my emotions to guide me,” said Moawad, adding “It is difficult to describe, there is the presence of nature, a deep force.” said.

It is during this time that her energy is at an “apogee.”

The themes and moods are reflected in the painting titles, such as those from her Asian catalog: Serenity, Dream World, Dragon, Horses, Tiger Face, and The Gathering.

For Moawad, the greatest joy in exhibiting, and ultimately selling her works “is for the simple reason that it allows me to share what I have done."

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