Painter, Tagreed Darghouth, uses abstract impressionism and impasto layers applied with gestural brushstrokes to tackle topics concerning structural violence, popular culture, and the marginalised. For the last two years Darghouth has been preoccupied with parallel concepts which have culminated in three new bodies of work: Beirut Silos, The Explosion and To My Father, From Van Gogh’s Bouquets. Working with acrylic on paper as well as canvas the artist continues her unabashed social commentary, reflecting upon that which she encounters on the streets of Beirut and beyond and ushering it into expressionistic figuration. Darghouth regularly connects far-flung influences from literature, philosophy and music to her personal experiences. For the Beirut Silos series and The Explosion series, the artist meditates upon the catastrophic explosion that took place in Beirut on 4th August 2020 devastating the community. The Beirut Silos series zones in on the transformation and degradation of the industrial silos that surrounded Beirut’s port during and after the explosion. The To My Father, From Van Gogh’s Bouquets series, pays tribute to Tagreed’s father who loved flowers immensely and is a loose interpretation of Van Gogh’s paintings of roses, flowers, and bouquets. Shortly before Van Gogh's release from the asylum at Saint–Rémy he began to paint roses as a process of healing and means of coming to terms with both his illness and himself. As he entered into the final stages of recovery, he wrote to his brother Theo, that he had "worked as in a frenzy. Great bunches of flowers, violet irises, big bouquets of roses..." The three series - Beirut Silos, The Explosion and To My Father, From Van Gogh’s Bouquets - are untied by Tagreed’s immense feelings of personal and collective loss; loss of her father and also loss of the Lebanon of the past that her father knew and loved.
“He said to me: Sit in the eye of the needle and stay put. When the thread enters the needle do not grab it, and do not stretch it. And be happy: for I love only the happy.”
- Al-Niffari (the labyrinth station)
Painting of the Silos is not to depict Beirut’s misery after the Port explosion. The misery has always been there. It bloomed in 1975, withered in 1990, but never died. After the civil war, the Lebanese endured, lived along, and adapted. They also managed to keep the “green line” alive, and eventually make it greener. To each their own, to each their bright side of the city. Beirut, the sad and sadder city in disguise.
With a pre-war staged and pitiful nostalgia, warlords dressed up as politicians, imaginary borderlines, allies, friends and foes, the people followed without a fuss. “The Explosion” was inevitable. Beirut, the city finally protested. Beirut exploded.
Painting the Silos is painting our failures and defeat. The Lebanese self-portrait, that of collapse.
“To My Father, From Van Gogh’s Bouquets” is a tribute to my father who passed away last year. He had hope. While waiting for the war to end, he filled our garden with all sorts of flowers. The war never ended, but those painted flowers carry my father’s hope.
- Tagreed Darghouth