During his presence in Beirut in July 2018, we had the occasion to interview the famous painter Jean Boghossian. An exhibition of his works will be organized in Beirut Souks from September 18, until October 28, 2018.
1- You have an exhibition scheduled in Beirut from September 18th 2018, until October 28th 2018. What is the theme of the exhibition? The theme of my exhibition, which is also its title, is «Building with Fire». It explores the special feature of my work which consists of building through the destruction made by fire. With Bruno Corà, my curator, we were especially interested in the idea of a geometry that emanated from chaos, made of linear traces of smoke and burning, or of folds of burned paper.
But «Building with Fire» also evokes the former building of the daily newspaper L’Orient Le Jour in which I present my exhibition, shaped by the fire of 15 years of civil war and which, despite this,is still standing and is still able to welcome visitors today.
2- Why did you choose L’Orient Le Jour building in Beirut Souks to present your works? I chose this building for the obvious link that unites it to my work, partly because its appearance resonates powerfully with my paintings: its crumbling walls, infiltrations of water or even bullet holes which create constellations engraved in the stone.
This building is also for me a very strong symbol of Beirut, a city in perpetual destruction and reconstruction. In addition to being the previous headquarter of L’Orient Le Jour, one of the most influential French-language newspapers in the country, the building was occupied throughout the civil war and was the only structure spared in the Beirut Souks area, where everything else was bombed. We find all kinds of messages of love or despair engraved on its inner and outer walls. Finally, it is one of the few examples of 19th century architecture in Lebanon that is still standing. Its façade should be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the coming years.
I also wanted to show my works in the Crypt of St. Joseph Church after having attended an exhibition on the Armenian Genocide a few years ago. I thought it would create a more intimate and spiritual extension to my exhibition.
3- You are an artist charged with a complex universal imagination, being multinational with Armenian, Lebanese and Belgian belongings, how is this reflected in your works? I think that the Armenian Genocide and the civil wars that broke out in Lebanon and Syria had a strong impact on my oriental heritage. War, exile and destruction that accompanied me throughout my life undoubtedly influenced me unconsciously in my choice to paint with fire. My artistic experiments, however, reflect more of an approach acquired in Europe that follows the history of Western art and of the avant-gardes.
4- You are a painter and a sculptor, does this exhibition include sculptural works? This time what I will present is mostly paintings.