The world-renowned artist Paul Guiragossian was born in Jerusalem in 1926 to survivors of the Armenian genocide. Raised in orphanages, he learned to paint from Italian priests and on a scholarship to Florence. Doubly displaced in 1948, he made cosmopolitan Beirut his home, portraying mothers and children, outcasts and the destitute (he was awarded a knighthood by Pope John Paul II). His daughter Manuella, herself an artist, is co-editor of Paul Guiragossian: Displacing Modernity (2018), published in Milan on the 25th anniversary of her father’s death, as he is being widely rediscovered as a pioneer of Modernist art beyond Europe. His history made him acutely aware of the effects of exile on the body and soul. His colourful paintings fuse stained glass, Byzantine icons, ancient Egypt and the Arabesque, moving towards abstraction but never renouncing the human form. His daughter speaks to Maya Jaggi about a life marked by forced migration, civil war and blows of fate (such as losing his leg in an elevator accident), and about a transcendent art of the human condition.
MANUELLA GUIRAGOSSIAN is an artist and the youngest daughter of Paul Guiragossian (1926-93). She is President of the Paul Guiragossian Foundation in Lebanon, established in 2011 by the late artist’s wife and children to preserve and promote his legacy. She is co-editor with Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath of the monograph Paul Guiragossian: Displacing Modernity (2018), published by Silvana Editoriale in Milan. Manuella’s father taught her from childhood to be creative through storytelling, drawing and making flip books, leading to her early interest in cartoons and animation. She has a BFA in Film and Video from the California Institute of the Arts. She has participated in group exhibitions, art fairs and solo shows around the world. Some of her work is based on childhood drawings she made during the Lebanese civil war, which her father signed, dated and preserved, and which she rediscovered after his death during her work on his archive. paulguiragossian.com
MAYA JAGGI is Director and co-presenter of Suoni dal Golfo’s Sea of Stories on the Gulf of Poets. A writer, critic, cultural journalist, consultant and artistic director in London, where she was born, she has reported from five continents and interviewed 14 Nobel prizewinners among hundreds of cultural figures, from Günter Grass and Umberto Eco to Salman Rushdie and Edward Said. Her writing on global art, literature and music appears in the Financial Times, New York Review of Books, New York Times and Words Without Borders – where she is Critic at Large – and she contributes to the BBC. She was a leading profile writer and critic for the Guardian newspaper’s Review in 1999-2015, and is ‘one of Britain’s most respected arts journalists,’ according to the Open University, which awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2012. She has been an Associate Fellow of Warwick University, a DAAD Arts and Media Fellow in Berlin and an EU Senior Expert in Cultural Journalism in post-Soviet Europe. She holds degrees from Oxford University and the London School of Economics.
This conversation is part of the Lebanese focus of Sea of Stories on the Gulf of Poets. The talk will be in English with simultaneous translation into Italian.
This evening is free entry/entrata gratis