Lina Kobeissi: This paradise is NOT for me

T H E S H O P, Jeddah’s funky vintage boutique, has other treasures besides 1970’s Dior sunglasses and padded jackets from 80s.  Tucked behind Ligne Roset on Al-Rawdah Street, T H E S H O P is also an underground art gallery, displaying emerging talents that have yet to sell out and go mainstream!
“It’s one of our main objectives,” asserted Baraa Al-Khateeb, owner of  T H E S H O P. “In addition to stimulating the vintage scene in Saudi, our goal is to support all art forms, whether its painting, music or interior design.”
Al-Khateeb sees T H E S H O P as a creative haven where designers and lovers-of-all-things-design can congregate, as well as collaborate.
The most recent manifestation of Al-Khateeb’s underground patronage comes in the form of Lina Kobeissi, an emerging Lebanese-German artist whose watercolor portraits hang like uncensored diary entries. A form of free association that is also contrived with an editorial afterthought, Kobeissi is able to produce a visually vocal series that screams teenage angst while unveiling the insecurities of a latent subconscious.
Over avant-garde reinterpretations of Kebbe Naya and Jallab, visitors of T H E S H O P were able to voyeuristically intrude on the internal monologue of the interior architecture major. Her cathartic explosions of color hang in a gray layer as Sophia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides is projected on one of the walls. “This Paradise is NOT for Me” is Kobeissi’s first exhibition.

Arab News got a chance to speak with the young artist whose loud emotional journey in watercolor reminds us of our own insecurities — ones, which we often only probe when we think no one is looking.

The first painting of this series was exactly a sudden explosion. At the time, I had a lot on my mind, and one sleepless night, I just got up, sat on the floor and just started painting. I just let the colors flow into each other. I feel like I painted exactly how I felt at the time. I am sure all of us can relate to times where we feel our heads are about to explode or are just overflowing with whatever emotions, pressures or decisions we are dealing with, whether good or bad. The great part about it is that after the little “sudden explosion,” I felt much better and even slept better. I didn’t really show the painting to anyone at the time because I felt a very personal attachment to it.

It’s me. I see a lot of myself in them, but I would love to know that this painting could be related to each individual person on a personal level in many different ways. To me, I feel very calm, secure and relaxed when I look at them. Other friends or family members have told me that it makes them feel scared and sad. If these paintings make people see themselves and their emotions the way it did to me, then I’m happy. As much as I say that it represents me to me, I would love it to represent you to you.

I have been painting since I can remember and was always interested in furniture and architectural materials.

Personally, I think architecture is just as flexible and fluid as painting. It is a different medium for sure, but nonetheless art as well. When working on interior architecture projects, I often, if not always, begin with a painting that slowly develops into a design. With architecture, its forms and materials have always inspired me to paint. To me, these two fields go hand-in-hand, and this is actually how I continue to learn about each one of them.

They’re much more free associations than replications of any dreams. Actually, most of my works are interpretations of things that I have seen or experienced. I take little moments and translate them in an abstract way. For me, each painting reminds me exactly of the specific moment, event or mental image that I was trying to depict.

Mostly, I’d say that my work is very simply how I see and feel. In this series, the paintings are literally the image of how I was feeling. I basically gave my emotions a face. My choices of colors and textures vary according to my personal interpretation of whichever feeling or mood I want to personally portray in each piece. Things that catch my attention throughout the day, as insignificant as they might seem, evoke a certain mood that can directly be translated into colors and textures. I guess to me, my forms of art are like a diary that tells you how I see and interpret things.

I rarely touch the mixed medium paintings on the following day, but rather add the accents while they are drying. The way the mediums react to each other is the interesting part of working with watercolors, ink and chalk together. Their different consistencies work so well jointly and create great textures and color shades. With these paintings specifically, I intentionally added the different accents up until they were dry and then considered them done.

Working with Baraa has been great. We seemed to be on the same wavelength on what needed to be done from day one, and he was always very supportive. I didn’t really know how to approach the whole situation since this was the first time I have ever shown any of my work publicly.
Baraa was very smart and creative about it and seemed to grasp the entire feeling behind this series immediately. We kept consulting each other about thoughts concerning display, and we both seemed to love the idea of making the atmosphere quite grungy and underground. The gray walls and beautifully simple wooden frames were aspects we agreed on instantly. Baraa put all the final touches, such as music and catering together. His great attention to detail gave the exhibition the atmosphere it needed. The collaboration with him was crucial for my art because he understood it, which made working together easy and fun. I hope to be able to work on many more exhibitions with him in the near future.

Article by Marriam M Mossalli – Arab News