As one of the most distinguished Lebanese Modern artists, Paul Guiragossian captivates collectors and art appreciators alike with his bold brushwork and strong use of texture and colour. Christie's is pleased to offer a selection of three works by the artist in this season's auction. The present lot, Festivities dating from 1986 is a captivating example from Guiragossian's celebrated late series whereby the artist had achieved a sense of maturity in style, incorporating abstract elongated slim lines in his compositions.
Although his earlier works were more figurative in style, from the late 1970s onwards Guiragossian would gradually liberate himself from the confines of the discernable human figure, which manifested in thick brushstrokes that created intricate and dense layers of colour in his paintings. In Festivities, Guiragossian adopts a vibrant and shining palette of colours from which emanates a sense of happiness that is associated with a jovial event that would require festivity. Crowded with rigid vertical figures, Guiragossian creates a tangible sense of depth in the handling of a vast crowd. There is a sense of intimacy in the artwork that is reflective of Middle Eastern culture as a sense of warmth radiates from the canvas. The figures are full of life and dynamism, the vivacious colours symbolising a sign of hope and rebellion against the underlying human misery that was particularly poignant at the time of the Civil War in Lebanon.
On closer inspection, the viewer realises that these extended caricatures of the human form also convey a sense of tragedy and suffering. Woman, child and man become faceless imprints delineated by a powerful brushstroke; their solitude portrayed as patches of colour that appear to be close, yet never overlap. The thick impasto denotes a heavy suffering, misery and depression that plagued the artist in a series of misfortunate events in his life. Within his work, the artist manages to portray both joy and sadness and the juxtaposition of luminosity and density of colour against a deeper underlying sense of angst produces a visually arresting, multi-layered composition that renders Festivities an emotionally captivating work of art.
Organised by the Paul Guiragossian Foundation, a retrospective of the artist's works entitled Paul Guiragossian: The Human Condition was recently held at the Beirut Exhibition Centre on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the artist's passing.