Sunday, August 26, 2012

EXHIBITION | Fouad Mezher "Superheroes and Monkeys" | July 2012

Step into a realm like no other; one of tightly-dressed-sharp-featured-people- playing superheroes, fluffy monkeys, and unexpectedly evil animals.

Walking into Fouad Mezher’s exhibition “superheroes and monkeys”, you get a strange feeling, as if several movies were playing at the same time, and their different soundtracks are bombarding you, fusing into one another. Only when you focus in one direction of the large exhibition space does it seem to you that the music gets clearer.

from the children's book "The Adventures of the Little Monkey"

If you look to the right, to “The Adventures of the Little Monkey”, you can almost hear the soundtrack “pure imagination” from Willy Wonka. Come with me, and you’ll be, in a world of pure imagination! And you can’t help but be drawn closer and closer to those drawings, in a hopeful attempt to get a feel of this monkey’s existence, and maybe, just maybe, accompany him on his adventure, even if for a few moments, in your imagination.

Fouad Mezher in the exhibition in front of his sketches

However, if you look to the left and stare at the so-called sketches, most of which are of evil animals, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s song “the beauty underneath” pops up in your head, and lingers! When the dark unfolds its wings, do you sense the strangest things, things no one could ever guess, things mere words cannot express! Even when his illustrations instill horror and dismay in your soul, you can’t help but be bewitched by their beauty underneath.

The 25-year-old illustrator, animator and designer chose to showcase a collection of both personal and commercial illustrations. He displayed them according to four categories: comics, kid's books, collected works and (so-called) sketches.

Fouad Mezher on sketching

Why so-called sketches? Because what is a sketch to Fouad, is a final product to others in his field. As for amateurs, his sketches are more like chef-d’oeuvres. However, Fouad is too humble to call them anything more than sketches, as “there are a lot of artists outside of Lebanon who have sketches that are way more detailed.”

Farah Afra interviewing Fouad Mezher

Fouad started drawing at the age of three, but what is rather striking is that he never took a drawing or an illustration class until his second year of Graphic Design in AUB.

Movies have always had a big influence on his work. It all started with Batman, which is still a big influence for Mezher, but if he were to attribute a place for a second muse, it would go to “the Matrix”, for he was drawn by its communist subtext at a tender age despite the fact that, at the time, he had no idea what communism was.

from the comic "The Educator"

The ideas Mezher currently works on as personal endeavors find their roots in these two movies, amongst a few others. His work is a reflection of both errant and deep thoughts, issues he wants to relay to others, and things that relate to his life. They all intermingle into an amalgam of mesmerizing shapes, shadows, and sometimes color overlaid on paper.

Fouad Mezher's exhibition "Superheroes and Monkeys" at A Fish in Sea

The evil penguin, for example, is a sketch that started with a bet. And every bet has its story. It was a typical day at work, and Fouad was determined to forever tarnish the way his coworker innocently views animals. So he unleashed his twisted talent on paper, betting he will succeed. The result was the Evil Penguin, then a vampire walrus, and a once-innocent girl, now lost in the dark side that offered, not cookies, but sketches of evil animals.

from the calendar for the "International Day Against the Death Penalty"

Mezher is passionate about his work and refuses for it to be a mere routine. He always seeks to connect personally with his illustrations, even if they are a client-job.

“You try to infiltrate some of yourself and the things you care about into the job, if not, you try to find in the job an aspect you care about, if that doesn’t happen, you find a way to care about it”, asserts Mezher.

If you happen to stumble on some of Fouad’s work, be prepared for a journey like no other, one that will almost definitely leave you wanting more.

friends and visitors left their comments on Fouad's exhibition

written by Farah Afra
edited by Zeina Shaaban 
photography by Alaa Kabalan

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