Zena el Khalil
'But, I Can't Let Go' (Page 1 of 9)
ENGLISH PRESS RELEASE:
Zena el Khalil
'But, I Can't Let Go'
February 15 - April 5, 2008
Beirut, January 21 , 2008 - Zena el Khalil's latest body of work, entitled But, I Can't Let Go, includes mixed media collages, paintings, fabric sculptures and an installation.
El Khalil's choice of materials and subject matter are derived directly from her surroundings. Her muse of choice: the city of Beirut. For this body of work, el Khalil focused on specific objects and ideas derived from her experience of living in Beirut during the Israeli siege on Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Her work is reactionary to the summer war as well as the politics of her geographic region.
During the summer siege on Lebanon, el Khalil picked up one of the thousands of flyers that were dropped by Israeli warplanes. The image is of the "Big Four" (Bashar el Assad, Hassan Nasrallah, Ismail Haniya, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad). Somehow, through the use of irony and humor, el Khalil finds that working with this image relieves her from the emotional and physical pain endured during the war. The work becomes a form of catharsis as el Khalil feels that with each piece made, she is taking ownership of the image and emotions imposed on her.
Her other mixed media pieces contain fragments of the instability of her geographic region. Through the juxtaposition of materials and images, el Khalil finds herself bringing up political questions to light. There are snippets of an Abu Ghraib victim who was tortured by electrocution, collages of religious iconography, young soldiers and macho macho men going off to war. el Khalil revisits these images with her signature use of glitter, beads, boa feathers and pink and gold fabrics.
Another central image to this body of work is the AK-47 gun, also known as the Kalashnikov - or for better Lebanese terminology, the "Klashin". The presence of the gun cannot be over looked- in some pieces, it remains in the background, while in others, it is the central figure, standing proud. Her fabric renditions of the gun are covered in gold cloth (a specific material used by belly dancers), beads, fabric hearts, artificial flowers and pink feathers. The "Klashin" was a popular gun during the abysmal 15 year Lebanese civil war. El Khalil believes that the ironic nostalgia for that period is very much present in today's Beirut.
The installation, entitled Paradise, is what el Khalil believes to her interpretation of everyday life in Beirut. She perceives Beirut to be a city in denial, and takes the opportunity to exhibit her specific views. While assassinations happen every other month, real estate prices are sky rocketing... While religious tensions are increasing, the champagne flows steadly.
El Khalil interprets her work as a daily creative offering she makes to Beirut, also believing that the only way to tame Beirut is to hold a mirror up to her face. Striving to affirm her existence in the daily barrage of war, assassinations and uncertainties, el Khalil's artwork becomes a testament to the absurdities of her present time and space.