From Paris to Damascus, the story of Hammoud Shantoot between two cities

In his new exhibition, “From Paris to Damascus,” the Syrian painter Hammoud Shantoot celebrates places as subjects of twenty-four paintings (acrylic and various materials on canvas), creating common and contrasting spaces between the landmarks of the French and Syrian transfers capitals, through various dimensions of his works, which are included in the George Camel Gallery in Damascus. In this exhibition, Shantoot presents a summary of his experience, which he began with his first solo exhibition at the People’s Hall in Damascus, after returning in 1985 from art studies at the Académie des Beauzar in Paris.

Since then, Hammoud Shantoot has worked on various topics such as the icon, “The Last Supper”, “One Thousand and One Nights”, the tree, the woman, and Mahmoud Darwish’s poems … all of which distinguished his style with the richness of its colors, and his confidence in the manufacture of his own raw materials from charcoal.And oil and acrylic, and his desire to achieve a high technique in the juxtaposition of color between thick and transparent, and dryness and moisture. The establishment of the background of the painting received special attention for him, along with the creativity of the chemistry of color and its aversion to the illuminated areas of the painting, and the control of the intensity of brightness required.

In his exhibition, which he took with him from Paris, where he currently lives, Chantout conveys examples of the quiet nature of spring in Paris, the lake, trees and buildings in the Paris suburb of Creteil. It is all composed of paintings depicting urban scenes from the city of Damascus, such as the ancient Armenian bath, the Umayyad mosque, the orchards of Ghouta of Damascus, in addition to the Levantine citrus tree, and the landmarks of the Syrian house, where degrees of green and blue with yellow and gold clash in high harmony with the earthy shades of Brown, orange and pink on the plate surfaces. Shantoot presented these visions in a style that reflected the experience of the boy of the city of Hama in the distribution of his visually balanced elements, and the care for the placement of female figures with a spectral body within them. Chantout has always offered a different angle in his painting, such as in his painting “An Angel Resting by a Wall”, as he has devoted a long research to it in his plastic laboratory, since graduating from the Painting Department at the Faculty of Fine Arts . Arts in Damascus in 1980.

color variations

In this exhibition, Chantout attaches the greatest importance to composition within a realistic formula. In other works, it is clear that this artist has developed many methods of photography without going into repetition, either by working on the surface and background, or even by the constant transition from the boldness of color, to the variations of dark and shade, and from there to less bright lights and transparency. Shantoot has so far not achieved a single exhibition in which he has relied on a single subject or technique. With each stage of his work, this painter devised a different technique, as in his painting “Adam and Eve”, to move from it to a different style and subject, which always required a deep and original feeling of him, and in constant contact with her.

On a technical level, Hammoud has worked for about half a century of his experience on various materials, on wood, on canvas without a foundation, on canvas with a base, on canvases, paper and cardboard. All this according to the nature of his colors and earthy materials that he mixed with the watercolor, in addition to the materials that he used to manufacture himself to achieve his own color paste. It was clear since the realization of his first works, which drew their colors from the walls of lime, dirt and algae growing on them, from the effects of rain that had penetrated into the old house of his family in Hama. And his trees and his fishermen’s boats since he was a little kid.

city ​​of immigration

Shantoot took about six years to complete the works of his exhibition, and he spent long hours in his small studio in Paris, as he tells us, recalling scenes from his memory about the stages of his migration from his country in 2012. , and from there to Beirut, where he lived for four years and held exhibitions on the tree and the woman, before settling in a suburb of the French capital, to devote himself to working there, away from the hustle and bustle of Paris. On this he says: “I can not evaluate my work, because it is time to do so. Let me quote here a house by Mahmoud Darwish in which he describes the poem as if he were describing the painting:” The poem is a setback. to a patch of darkness that radiates or may not radiate. ” Prove that they shine or not, time is the only thing that separates good things from bad ones that will die over time. Van Gogh, for example, was contemporary with hundreds of famous artists and people with good incomes, but all of them are forgotten, but the owner of the “potato eaters” have survived until now, Because he made a true and profound art, Vincent always said, ‘My paintings are a cry of sorrow from deep within,’ and I say as if he were painting with his own blood.

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The material that Chantout uses varies according to the different subject, and he says of this: “The material I use to draw dance is different from the works in which I paint the Damascene house. It is not the subject that matters. , but the way you treat this topic.Therefore, my obsession has always been to look for new materials to work with, And the search for new materials and materials to pick up.The successful artist is, in my opinion, the one that is right in choosing the appropriate material for one subject without another.In silent nature I may use other material than the one I use to draw “A Thousand Nights”, and the material here is what helps the artist a lot to convey the correct and accurate expression to the recipient “.

Chantout comes from certain Syrian backgrounds that he has repeatedly presented, far from the meaning of the record, but the icon, which he learned to draw in France, has remained his favorite subject, so he loved it as a subject because it a mystical and oriental sentence, saying: “Silent nature was my greatest teacher in life. The rooms, and my studio, which I always loved and painted with love and passion. I also worked on the theme of the tired “beautiful wall built of lime. and hay. I painted it with love and made special materials for it on my hands, and I felt it helped me a lot and was closer to my personality.”

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