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Hiba Kalache and Collective Understanding
Expressions, Episode 2
Art is transformative as it passes from era to era, shaping while being shaped by unique, shared human experiences. Major global events are a staple in the expression of various modern artists, exploring feelings and relationships. Several contemporary artists have taken up post-modern art forms to process their life experiences through history and conflict in the socio-political arena. Some even create at the confluence of these elements drawing on their synergies. One such artist is Hiba Kalache.
Hiba Kalache is a Beirut-born interdisciplinary artist working primarily with abstract art in multimedia. Her work includes sculptures, drawings, paintings, and interactive pieces mainly based on her experiences as a woman concerning mundane and everyday happenings.
Her work’s unique themes are a magnificently curated exploration and expression of the private and public sphere and how it works in her daily life. Looking at Kalache's art, one feels the delicate beauty of her presentation in the background's minute details, the stark colors within fine meshes of lines, and abstract floral patterns. Though the sculptures she creates are sometimes the opposite of her ink work. The flashy chaos of her inks is balanced out by her outstanding assortments of quiet layouts, including flowers, abstract shapes, and the utilization of space with minimal color used within them.
Kalache also seems literary inclined, finding much inspiration in various art forms and other creatives, such as the authors Helene Cixous and Clarice Lispector. Her work reflects her unique perspective from personal experience and reflection from afar. She finds her visual voice amid the instability and turmoil of her homeland and the adaptation to living abroad.
The US-based artist looks at the "banalities of daily rituals" through her work in the form of different theme-based series. For example, her series of exhibitions, including Lemonade Everything was so Infinite, Encounters, and Our Dreams are a Second Life, have dealt with the concepts of protest and existence. She draws on her birthplace of Lebanon's geopolitical scenarios.
She also has a unique presence as a female artist, simultaneously belonging to two places while sharing perspectives on managing the private and personal spheres.
Kalache works in a psychoanalytical way with the moment. The presence of the moment may come from abstract ideas or simply by "rubbing the canvases on the ground," as she states, to capture the truth and feeling of that same space and moment in her life.Her autobiographical works are embued with balance whereas other artists can come across as unfocused, disjointed, or even incoherent in their work.
When viewing her art, especially a series like Our Dreams are a Second Life or Encounters-ongoing, we quickly find a floating balance between empty and color-filled spaces. These are meticulously drawn and painted patterns that may resemble a flower, a body, or a scene – allowing us room to breathe, inhaling and savoring the work in front of us. This is the exquisite capability of Kalache, which makes her art so special and unique.
She puts the onlooker in a space where they can breathe between the bursts of forms and color in her paintings' vividly vacant open spaces. This is indicative of the artist's all-encompassing link across the body of her work.
Kalache’s series The Impermanence of States is one of her most visually stunning and detailed cartographic works. It entails all the chaos of the Beirut car bomb incident and the related geopolitical turmoil. Her deep acrylic ink work contains all the chaotic elements of the instability and violence of this tragedy. The map-like compositions of these artworks create a beautiful and captivating visage showing the conflict from which they were inspired. Explosive imagery is clearly expressed in the series, revealing violence to the viewer through abstract cries of protestation and mourning, the stubbornness of existence amidst the chaos, and the misfortune of the chaos itself.
A central theme of Kalache’s work revolves around the collective understanding, feeling, and memory of historical moments, such as in her series Alternate Worlds, Encounters, and Lemonade Everything was so Infinite. Her work blends art with reality, subtly and masterfully spanning the past, present, and future.
Her detailed use of acrylic inks depicts intricate patterns resembling topography, cartograms, and flowers from other worlds. This method gives a collective voice to the conflicts and confusion of people's daily lives, echoing her politically affected homeland. This makes for a beautiful encounter for everyone to reflect on the chaos and conflict of their own experience through her aptly depicted creations.
Kalache’s works allow us to breathe in and internalize a personal yet shared experience with the artist. Through her art, Kalache creates an atmosphere for everyone to draw in and experience, proving that art is more than just colors, patterns, and textures. Her creations demonstrate that art is an experience that juxtaposes our personal and collective understanding of ourselves and our world.
Art is the breath of humanity, especially for those waiting to exhale.
Check out the previous episode of Expressions, in case you missed it: Vincent Van Gogh and the Power of Human Connection
This article was published with the permission of the featured artist, Hiba Kalache. All artwork featured in this article is the creative property of Hiba Kalache and is reprinted here by permission of the artist. Source: https://hibakalache.com/
Research and guest contributor for this article: Shah Bukht Fatima