A passionate music lover, Mouna Rebeiz unveils a secret side with her “quasi metaphysical” Opéras series, inviting contemplation.
Spirited, vivacious, she is in perpetual movement as she speaks. Brisk, almost abrupt, often likened to a “flame” or a “volcano”, fearless. No stranger to paradox, the vibrant Mouna Rebeiz is drawn to orgiastic scenes or almost architectural line drawings, unequivocal nudes or pure abstraction. She has lived in Paris for four decades, after growing up in Bayreuth in the midst of a family of musicians, painters and poets. “Lebanon is a place where East meets West, just like my art.” Her talent is revealed by a first painting in 1996, a dazzling copy of a bouquet of roses by Van Huysum. But she is driven by the desire to break free, as illustrated by Origines, her bold replay of Gustav Courbet’s masterpiece, and its counterpoint, Fin (End), portraying female genitalia sutured with a black satin ribbon. “Woman is both the origin and the end of life. Humanity mourns when woman can no longer conceive and retreats into herself.” With her Betty Boop series in 2012, she questions reality and appearances—the confusion between the real and the virtual. And, “borrowing” the traditional tarboush (fez) for another provocative series, she brilliantly re-appropriates this indisputably male symbol. In 2016, she paints the tragic Chaos, a magnificent exorcism after the shootings that shook France. She vigorously denounces “trash” over beauty, which can lead only to the absurd and abyssal nothingness. The bodies she likes to paint now are more ethereal, more evanescent, naturally evolving toward abstraction. The idea of “transcribing music” with her brush is self-evident to Mouna Rebiez—who lives and breathes Mozart’s Requiem and “dramatic” operas. Ever the thrill-seeker, she quotes Kierkegaard: “Man is anguish and tension striving toward Transcendence.” And hurries to add: “For me, art can only be sacred. I’m possessed when I paint.”
1975 : Mouna Rebeiz leaves war-torn Lebanon for Paris, where she studies Psychology at the Sorbonne.
1995 : She meets 17th and 18th century painting specialist, Alix de la Source, who introduces her to the great masters of the French and Flemish schools, and to their techniques.
2005 : In homage to Courbet, she paints the audacious Origines.
2008 : A first abstract work, Le Vaisseau Fantôme (Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman), marks the beginning of the Opéras series.
2015 : “The Tarboush”, a solo show at the Saatchi Gallery, London.
2016 : The artist’s appropriation of the cover of Connaissance des Arts magazine in its new format (shown with the artist above).