Bittersweet portraits

Visual Sunday

The road from Hamra to Gemmayze on a Friday afternoon is no piece of cake. After spending an hour and a half with a service driver on the verge of having a nervous breakdown, we finally arrive at Demo, the café where Loulwa Beydoun is waiting. She had spent the time waiting drawing in her sketchbook, with black and red pens.

With her recognizable hairdo, the same one she always draws when illustrating herself, this 17 year-old is an interesting character. She always drew, but during the past year, her sketches have acquired their one identifiable feature: a simplicity reminiscent of naïve art with very few colors, as if to better convey her thoughts and feelings.

This is shown through the small details adorning her drawings, like drops of blood, a bullet-injured body, and a tired look in the eyes of the subjects. She says that she draws to recreate and remember her experiences.

Throughout our conversation, Loulwa keeps questioning how the viewer understands her drawings. Anyone can interpret her art in a different way. On many of her works, she draws holes in her head and heart. Her simple explanation to that is that one feels less pain when the thinking and the feelings go away. It’s a sort of catharsis and through drawing pain, she can get rid of her own.

Loulwa sketches whatever passes through her mind. She often draws in an automatic manner, without necessarily having an idea of what she is depicting. It is only when she finishes that she fully understands what she meant to show. Her sketches are never bigger than A4 format “I can’t express myself the same way when the paper size is bigger. I find myself more in the smallness.”

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