Tag Archives: art

The Kipling Spirit - roula Sorour

The Kipling Spirit , Hahnemühle Bright White Photo Rag mounted on Dibond, by roula sorour 150x90cm , Ed.1/1 – 2017 V&A Museum, John Madejski Garden, designed by Kim Wilkie, London, England, early 21th century ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This is part of an ongoing series, where i am using museum’s facades and photos from museum’s archives, to build fictional realities  pertaining to current events. The technique is varied, mainly envolving mixed media over printed digitally manipulated photos. The series is an homage to museums, these unique very dynamic yet meditational places where new connections between seemingly unrelated objets or events are established and where past and present are being woven together to come up with new narratives, questioning the past and imagining the future.

I’ve always sat in awe admiring the great brick facade of the V&A. Little did i know that Lockwood Kipling (Rudyard Kipling’s father)started his career as an architectural sculptor at the South Kensington Museum (later renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum) . That wonderful exhibition made it so clear to me that Britain’s greatness like that of the V&A relies so much on cultural diversity.  


The fabric passed the test !

Mixed media/ collage embroidery on Harman smooth cotton paper mounted on dibond   150x 117cm

Mixed media/ collage embroidery on Harman smooth cotton paper mounted on dibond 150x 117cm

A few more final touches for “Late night at Sursock” and it’s done! A collaborative mixed media work involving embroidery/weaving by people from different parts in Lebanon inspired by the tensions in the art world.  Gathering back all the pieces in one work symbolizes my belief that it is throught art and institutions like Sursock that Lebanese will be pulled together!  Special thanks to all the people who collaborated and made this project possible: Sana from Zouk, Lillie and her family from Baakline, Arpi and Anahid from Badguèr in Bourj Hamoud, Zeina and her team at Khan el Franj Saida, Safa and Anouane from Sour , Melissa from Jounieh Zorica from Batroun( for helping me find Melissa!), Eric Mona and Shahinaz of Tara W Kheit in tripoli,Hala and her team at Barjis, Ziad and his team at Inaash , Rabih from Mlikh Jezzine, Daria from Adonis , Fida from Aley, Dalal from Bekaa, Suheir at Decoratex, Bilal and Anny at Lollipop for the wonderful Dibond, Ibrahim at Palladium for his professional technical guidance and providing me with paper samples to do glue tests, and Melki for the 100% natural canvas and silk threads! For those who thought I was using a synthetic canvas the proof is in the video below! The fabric passed the 100% natural test as when burned, it crumbled between my fingers like powder and the burned edges were soft.

The fabric passed the test! from roula sorour on Vimeo.

Ya Hala Monsieur Courbet

Inspired by Courbet's The Meeting

Ya Hala Monsieur Courbet – Digital Print on Epson water resistant textured matte canvas 375g/m2  250x125cm

This  is my reinterpretation of Courbet’s “The Meeting” also known as “Wealth meeting Genius” or “Bonjour Monsieur Courbet” . My “artist meeting patron” version was inspired by Sursock Museum and Beirut’s soundscape, but also by the tumultuous relationship between artists and the global art establishment in general.
With power, money , notions of belonging and affiliations being key to understanding the structures of the art system, the relationship between the art establishment and artists has never been as tumultuous. Mega artists are leaving blue-chip galleries that have been representing them for many years whilst underground artists are finding it more difficult to be visible and have their work shown. Litigations and Art fraud cases are in the news on a daily basis. Art lawyers also known as consiglieries or art angels, are making huge amounts of money from cases related to authenticity, forged masterworks, sales of worthless fakes, issues of appropriation and money laundrering. Auctions on the other hand are filled with chandelier bids and planted accomplices who bid against clients to ramp up the final price. Having said that, not everyone falls in the trap and there are still amazing curators, art experts, institutions and artists one can trust.With the emergence of a new map of contemporary art, where Europe and the West are not necessarily at the center, Beirut was cited as being one of the 12 art cities of the future. Most artists there as elsewhere are strugling hard for exposure. They live in osmosis with their environment, and sometimes, can’t help but have their opinions embedded in their work, despite the curatorial trends: remaining neutral to have a broader audience , or sticking to a certain theme to suit a patron’s agenda. These are the true authentic artists who would be greeting any patron or art expert with the same confidence as that of Courbet in “The Meeting” . Like him they belong “to no school, to no church, to no institution, to no academy, least of all to any régime except the régime of liberty”.

As i was visiting the exhibition at Sursock Museum “Let’s Talk about the Weather” I remembered an idea that i submitted in 2011 for an art/science collaboration competition somewhere in Europe. It was inspired by the true story of two jordanian bedouin illiterate women who were sent to India for six month to train as Solar technicians. Something similar was taking place in Bangladesh.The man behind the Bangladeshi initiative was the Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus, which tells me such a project is a credible and feasible idea.

My proposal consisted of sending engineering students to poor remote villages in Lebanon, to train locals to install, use and maintain solar panels.

What about my role as an artist? I would be the creator of a short movie to document the project and to help spread the dream all over Lebanon.
Talking about Lebanon,what struck me most during my summer stay was the amount of noise pollution people have to live with. Loud shrieking speakers, exhaust sounds from cars and motorcycles, sounds of celebratory bullets shot in the air whenever a leader gives a speech or for whatever happy or sad occasion such as a wedding, a funeral,birth of a baby, promotion or even passing of a test. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a sound ministry that would regulate sounds and Integrate acoustic ecology in our urban design?

Work in progress : Late night at Sursock 

Inspired by Courbet's The Meeting

Inspired by Courbet’s The Meeting

I have been recently asked about ” Late night at Sursock” and whether it is still a work in progress. The answer is yes , because i am still looking for people to participate in the project. As i mentioned in a previous post i was in london when sursock museum opened its doors. I didn’t quite know what to expect . But i finally visited sursock museum and all my doubts disappeared. It is quite breathtaking to say the least. From the architecture to the restoration of the premises, to their permanent collection of Lebanese art, to Assadour’s retrospective, Ali Cherri’s touching exhibition and the oud player on thursday nights, everything was simply perfect. Unlike the elitist etiquette it was carrying in the past, the new sursock is a museum with such a varied rich program that one can safely say : finally Lebanon has a great modern and contemporary museum that is for all Lebanese.

It is more than clear to me that it is through the arts , and institutions like sursock museum in particular,that the Lebanese will be pulled together.
That’s exactly why i chose people from all walks of life, all over lebanon to work on bits of my above design in their preferred medium : embroidery, crochet, nawl ,patchwork, etc
Later all the parts would be gathered to form back the original picture ,symbolising our desire to stay united as a nation despite the storms surrounding us.

My thanks to each and everyone who is helping me on the project!
I am quite excited to see the final result.


 desert storm , mixed media painting , roula sorour  We’r all at some point in time explorers trying to go beyond , to reach new frontiers by asking the same question , how can we make the world a better place to live in? No matter who we are, from astronauts ,engineers, architects, to artists, teachers and everything in between, including migrants looking for a safer place to live , we’r all seeking better futures and new horizons. With our aging and depleted planet , and with mass migration  reaching epic proportions, space exploration is needed more than ever before. Good luck from the bottom of my heart to @OSIRISREx and everyone envolved in the mission to explore the Bennu asteroid!!

Work in progress, my version of Courbet’s The Meeting (Bonjour Monsieur Courbet)

Inspired by Courbet's The Meeting

Inspired by Courbet’s The Meeting

I was in london the day Sursock museum reopened it’s doors , how exciting ! It must have been so festive and fun to be there! After years of renovation , now it’s up and running and I can’t wait to visit ! That same night I couldn’t help imagining an artist at the reception, rising above all the criticism that was being showered on her by curators collectors patrons and art experts!
Few weeks later I came across the below  article by  a very respectable art critic, where Courbet’s  painting was mentioned. What a coincidence! Turned out artist meeting art patron had been done before.  The roles of star and supplicant have been reversed it’s true but some artists and hopefully a majority remain as confident and independent as Courbet in The Meeting. The article  was a major criticism of the corruption surrounding Art Basel Miami Beach. It is no secret to anyone that corruption has been a major ingredient of the art market.


If you’r wondering about the dramatic shift in style, it may be explained by the extensive costume research I did to participate in the  costume design competition  for Luc Besson’s movie Valerian .

Here was my submission, I didn’t win but it was so much fun!

Happy holidays to all!!

Life goes on despite trash taking over the city!

#aishtibythesea;roula sorour,photomontage,fashion,bleu,water,phoenician,beirut;lebanon;made in beirut;

Submission to #aishtibythesea competition, concept and photomontage by roula sorour, fashion design by Blanka Matragi

Beirut is amazing! Despite its tiny size, galleries and art spaces keep mushrooming left right and center. The latest addition will be the Aishti Foundation designed by David Adjave.
Aishti launched a #aishtibythesea competition to promote it.I immediately jumped to the occasion and decided to collaborate with the very talented Blanca Matragi by creating these  photomontages. I took inspiration from Beirut , from Aishti’s campaign and from  my last visit to the beirut national  museum . The first is very playful and as the inspiration is about the sea i chose phoenician artifacts. I also used a photo of soap bubbles taken at the science museum in London. For those who have kids this is a show not to be missed! The second is inspired by the lovely lebanese spirit of positivity and resilience especially during difficult times including the present trash crisis. Lebanese are keeping their fingers crossed for politicians to come to an agreement to solve the issue. The whole country is threatened to disappear under loads of trash including the beautiful architecture designed by David Adjave!!

#aishtibythesea;roula sorour;fashion;photomontage;lebanon;architecture;David Ajaye;aishti;

Submission to aishtibythesea competition ,concept and photomontage by roula sorour, fashion design by Blanka Matragi
Life goes on !despite trash taking over the city!