Cedars | Hanibal Srouji

Cedars 2012 | Painting 55 x 91,3 Inch

Discover the biography and all work of the artist

Hanibal Srouji uses his country's emblem, the cedar, as an allegory for the destruction of Lebanon. Completely detached from their natural and physical environment, the cedars are used metaphorically by the artist in the title of this painting, in which Srouji refers to his experience of the war in Lebanon.

In Cedars, we can only see this green forest in the foreground, with the sky at dawn on the horizon, or possibly the sea, as if we are in the Lebanese mountains and can see the sea in the distance.

This horizon can then be perceived as an ideal, a sun that rises on the new day, new experiences. While in the foreground, if we look closely, we notice little holes as if a series of bullets had passed through the canvas, leaving burn marks all around. By piercing the canvas, Hanibal Srouji seeks to reach into our hearts, by reminding us of the contrast of nature with the brutality of war.

This work forms part of a series of paintings made by the artist with the aim of evoking the fragile buildings of the Lebanese capital. Indeed, the viewer finds remnants of bombings on the walls, featured here with passion, contrasting once again with the work's pale and poetic tones.

In some sections, the artist has spread acrylic on the canvas with his hands, while in other places he has used a blowtorch to create scorch marks and borders.

Here again, he contrasts the pleasure of living in Lebanon and the love for his country with his impressions of the structural and emotional wounds arising from the conflict, imbuing his works with a highly intimate dimension.

Some people have found these works reminiscent of the water lilies of Monet or Joan Mitchell. We can see the commingling of destruction and construction with the black particles in the sky, both burn marks and flower pistils that will give rise to the growth of new flowers, explaining the flash in the centre of the painting, which signifies the future.