Huguette Caland, celebrating her 80th birthday this year still has an acute ability to produce magnificent and intricately detailed works, which she executes meticulously with her fine brushstrokes, inks and pens over rolls of canvas. She is the only daughter of Laura Shiha, and Sheikh Bechara El Khoury "Father of Independence", the first president of the Republic of Lebanon's after its independence from the French mandate. She began painting at the age of 16 under the private tutelage of the Italian artist Fernando Manetti, with great encouragement from her uncle Fouad El Khoury. She then studied art at the American University of Beirut from 1964 to 1968, lived in Paris for seventeen years, and subsequently spent some time working in New York. She returned briefly to Paris, where she worked with Rumanian sculptor George Apostu on a series of stone, wood and terracotta sculptures. Caland eventually settled in California in 1987 where she currently resides and works to this day. Lebanon, however, along with the influence of the Mediterranean and its colours remain present in her canvases.
In her work, she creates both a grotesque and charming fantasy world. Her production is far from being 'Primitive' or 'Nave', but has a strong characteristic of a childlike innocence and simplicity in its subject matter and technique. The repetitive elements of simple testimonies, small houses, boats, the tip of mountains, trees, and flowers, with no emphasis on any sense of perspective, is an open diary of her life and memories of good old days - a time she endlessly revisits and encapsulates on her long rolls of canvas.
She depicts long horizontal and vertical maps of divided lands, imagines sunny rural landscapes, with houses upside down and trees turning around the composition in a free and mobile manner. All of this is inspired directly from her roots in Lebanon and her emotion is strong - the joy of life, and the victory of hope. set against a forgotten nature and a lost childhood, full of stories and dreams, a vital imagination and simple human inventions, with the ability to rejoice in motif.
Caland's work is characterized by a refreshing innocence and the charming use of bright colors, and child-like perspective on large scales. It portrays simple, easily-understandable and often idealized scenes of everyday life. It is extremely personal and coherent. as if she takes us back to a vision of what the world was, or the world she dreams it should be. Her depiction is timeless and optimistic, it occupies the whole canvas, with no beginning and no end, like a continuous journey. This present outstanding work is bustling with fresh and vivid colours, diffusing happiness, love and excitement.