Kameel Hawa draws, paints, sculpts and designs. He projects words into art pieces, shaping typographic sculptures out of Arabic and Phoenician alphabets. He dabbles with photography, creates books and magazines and experiments with screen prints and other art forms.
An autodidactic artist, he is today best known for his sculptures: the typographic monument of Beirut, the tribute to his alma mater AUB, and the eight interpretations of the word Fann (Arabic for Art) which have drawn both popular and particular acclaim.
An accomplished designer, Kameel founded AlMohtaraf some three decades ago, a regional graphic design house which he still inspires and drives to date. AlMohtaraf is famous for combining refined aesthetics with modern design solutions, unfailingly maintaining a profound continuity with indigenous needs and values.
Kameel has had several solo exhibits in Beirut, Cairo and Kuwait. He has participated for years in the Beirut Art Fair and the Beirut Art Week. His last solo exhibit was held in 2015 at the Saifi Village Gallery 691, featuring lithographs and silkscreen works in addition to oil and watercolor paintings.
Kameel’s drawings and paintings of flowers and personages have been esteemed for their tenderness and originality, and have been published in three books: “Seated Women”, “Friends and Acquaintances”, and “Flowers in Vases”, in addition to a special feature in Helen Khal’s book on Lebanese artists.
Recent works of Kameel include “Random”, his geometric sculpture in front of the new UCA building on Jisr el Basha, and his sculptural interpretation of the Phoenicien alphabet, covered on a Reuters interview aired last month on several Lebanese and international channels.
معرض أعمال كميل حوا في “غاليري شريف تابت“ لحظات وحالات واختبارات تشكيلية ليست إلى زوال
تحتفي “غاليري شريف تابت”، الطريق البحرية، بأعمال الفنان كميل حوا، وتحتضن جدرانها تجليات نظراته إلى الطبيعة، إلى الصنوبرات النزقات الحالمات، إلى الزهور، إلى الأواني، إلى اللقطات الخاطفة، والديزاين، إلى المنحوتات، فالعكوف على الخط العربي، وعلى الأبجدية الفينيقية، وأساليب اهتمامات الفنان بها كلها، واختباراته عليها، ومقارباته لها، التي بقدر ما ترتكز على العفوية، تنمّ عن خبرة متمرسة متأنية، ومعرفة بالمقاييس الجمالية.
المعرض الذي يضمّ أقساماً متنوعة، في مقدّمها ركن الاحتفاء بالطبيعة، يعيد الاعتبار إلى ثقافة المشهد، إلى الأرض البكر، إلى قصيدة الشجرة المفردة، إلى الحياة التي تحياها الزهور والورود في أمكنتها ومواقعها، وفي أوانيها، والحكايات التي تكتبها، وإيقاعات الموسيقى الداخلية التي نستشفّ أصداءها، لا في العين فحسب، بل من خلال نزولها في الروح والتأمل العقلي.
يمكن المُشاهد أن يتعامل مع المعرض ومحتوياته، من منطلقات الفن المفهومي، والفن المينيمالي، حيث يترك الفنان لضربة ريشته أن تكون على السجية، فتتعاطى مع انفعالات الوجدان، والذاكرة، والواقع الراهن، باحتفال تشكيلي، الكثير من مضامينه يأخذ بالبعد الطفولي، العفوي، الفطري، “الساذج” (لكن بالمعنى الفني البحت art naïf). فالمقاييس إذ تخضع للضربات التلقائية، فإنها لا تشطّ، ولا تخرج على المعيار، بل تتوازن مع انسجاماتها ومفاهيميتها. لا شطط في الأعمال، بل خبرةٌ تتلاقى فيها العفوية مع المراس المتمكن، الأمر الذي يفضي إلى تقديم شهادات نوعية، تلقي التحية على ما بقي لنا من طبيعة في زمن التوحش البيئي والعمراني والإنساني.
الأعمال إذاً، تنطوي على رؤية خاصة. فهي لا تضم الكثير من العناصر، بل تكتفي بمشاهد مجتزأة من هذه الطبيعة، وقد لا تتعدّى أحياناً عنصراً واحداً، وكأنّها تستلهم مفردات الفن الأقلّي Minimal Art لتقول طريقتها في البحث عن ذاتيّة الأشياء على نحو لا يخلو من الترميز.
التكثيف اللوني حاضر في بعض الأعمال من دون الخوض في التفاصيل، لذا نجد أعمالاً ذات مساحات لونيّة صافية تقريباً، حيث يبدو تكرار بعض المفردات فيها (الشجرة) وكأنه محاولة لدراسة أحوال الثيمة ضمن ظروف متنوّعة.
الأجزاء الأخرى المكوِّنة للمعرض، تذكّر المُشاهد بأن كميل حوا، باحثٌ في الديزاين، وعلاقته بالتشكيل، كما تومئ إلى خبراته الخاصة في الخطّ، وإلى اهتماماته بالسكتش، أي بالضربة الخاطفة التي تختصر حالةً، أو مشهداً، أو فكرةً، أو قضية.
Artist of the Week
It is neither spectacular nor is it unusual, yet his artwork is clever and dense, sensual and rich. The artist—whose career is traced in an art exhibit, confesses he owes it all to coincidence. But didn’t Einstein say “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous”?
Dany Mallat | OLJ
He carries this disarming joy in his connection to others and a soothing blue gaze that sharpens at the first recall of his passion. Kameel Hawa, an imposing stature balanced by a genuine modesty, coexists with art and humour, that tinge each one of his sentences as he attempts to explain his unusual journey. “For drawing so many trees, mostly pine trees, I was dubbed “The Pine Man”, he says, bemused. They are reminiscent of my childhood, my senses retained their fragrance and their lushest greens.” Hawa paints women as one would pick a flower, sketches flowers as one would court a woman and re-writes letters and words as one would re-invent language. Exploring his work at the Cheriff Tabet Gallery is a gateway to his intimacy.
The Art Philosopher
The Lebanese designer, painter and writer was born in Beirut in 1947. He recalls a childhood punctuated by colorful canvases animated by his mothers’ amateur artist’s hands, and street-sellers of ‘Chiclets’ gum, sketched during his spare time. Yet, nothing predestined him to an artistic career. With a keen interest in politics and writing, he graduated with a degree in Political Sciences from the American University of Beirut. He casually confesses: “I was what you would call an activist agent”. On December 28, 1968, when—following multiple threats—Israel launched a commando operation on Beirut’s International airport and destroyed 13 planes, Kameel Hawa successfully managed to convince all the universities in Beirut to unite for a general strike. This led him to a meeting with a panel of the most prominent right wing politicians of the time including the former Lebanese President Bachir Gemayel at the Lebanese Newspaper L’Orient du Jour offices, to display his ideas—carefully crafted ones. A journalist’s career was shaping up. And that is how the fiery student got into politics, the aspiring young politician embraced journalism, the journalist wrote and drew words and slogans, and the drawer became Kameel Hawa, artist in his stolen moments and the professional who will later approach design as a mission. He looks back at his journalism years: “I tracked the printer’s job, from the first glyph set to the printed paper.” It is also coincidence that settles him in Jeddah where he will found his first design house, AlMohtaraf, a pan-Arab atelier that will later have a profound impact on the region’s design scene. It will stand out in its ability to blend tradition and modernity, art and design. From large companies branding and personalized brochures, to bronze and metal trophies for the Arab Poetry Festival, to sculptures implanted in public spaces, he has not stopped exploring Arabic Typography in an attempt of transcending it and breathing a new life into it.
His first project is a representation of the name ‘Beirut’ in Arabic, occupying a key location in Downtown Beirut. In 2014, his public installation of 8 sculptural adaptations of the word ‘Fann’ (Arabic for Art) on the Samir Kassir pool will earn him a wide recognition. Last but not least, the typographic sculpture in tribute to his alma mater AUB and a typographic interpretation of the complete Phoenician alphabet, represented by the first letter ‘Aleph’.
Drawing and Narration
Drawing and sketching are his sole interests. Drawings and sketches have a primordial place in Kameel Hawa’s creative process, and to the primacy of the idea, the artist contrasts the spontaneity of the gesture. To him, drawing, which remains the most spontaneous but also the least costly technique for he who practices it, is at the root of the greatest works of art. That is how some of his artworks, covertly penned during a meeting or a long phone call, allow us to discover his work and his feelings grasped on the spot. His colorful graffitis are the genesis of large works of art that enthrone large cities’ public spaces, and concretize as sculptures or other art forms.
Kameel Hawa is not an artist who limits himself to one particular medium. From his oils to floral motifs with symbolist accents, to the fragmented touch and comforting flat colors, through monumental sculptures or sketches of women in pure lines, he confesses that what touches him the most is passion for work.
A few ink strokes, enhanced with touches of color suffice him to express what is essential. “When I work, I don’t reflect, the subject is of no interest to me, he says, beauty alone calls. And when asked to share his secret: “When I hold a canvas, it is almost like holding the most beautiful woman in the world. A beautiful love story that I wish succeeds, a sacred moment.” And we hold back from retorting, such as this moment spent with you, pure pleasure…
*Kameel Hawa, « Moments »
Cheriff Tabet Art Gallery
Until 17 octobre 2018
Born in Beirut
Leads and participates in student protests following the Israeli attack on Beirut Airport.
Dedicates an entire year to painting and exhibits his work at the Arabic Cultural Club in 1978.
Settles in Jeddah and founds AlMohtaraf Design House.
Solo exhibit in Cairo at the Akhenaton Zamalik Art Gallery.
Design and art direction of “Qafila” cultural magazine.
Laureate of 3 design awards in New York.
Publishes his book “Word Art”, a reference in the field of design.
Participates in the Beirut Art Week with eight visual interpretations of the word ‘Fann’ (Arabic for ‘Art’)
Unveiling of the ‘Beirut’ sculpture facing Zaytouna Bay.
Invited by the New York TDC (Type Directors Club) to conduct a conference on art in public spaces and exhibit at the Cheriff Tabet Art Gallery.