Spotlight

Spotlight artist Omar El Habib

Championed by curator Dina Bizri Zaki
The Wick - Omar El Lahib
Ghost, 2022-2023
Above  Omar El Lahib Ghost, 2022-2023
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The Wick - Spotlight artist Omar El Habib
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Interview
Omar El Habib
13 March 2024
Interview
Omar El Habib
13 March 2024
Fantasy meets fiction in the dark, enigmatic landscapes of Lebanese artist Omar El Habib. Vibrant colours and ethereal figures pop against moody nocturnal backdrops, with nature and humanity merging.

The Cologne-based artist’s magical scenes have cast a spell on the curator Dina Bizri Zaki, who is entranced by their “mystical energy” and El Habib’s candidness of expression. El Habib’s current solo exhibition is on view at Saatchi Yates (6 March – 10 April) in London.
Bizri Zaki says: “Omar El-Lahib’s canvases are direct expressions of a feeling in front of a landscape. His creations navigate the blurred boundary between a fantastical universe and the mundane. He constructs an odd yet strangely familiar world inhabited by characters who exude peculiarity, quietness, and perhaps a sense of being lost—almost as if they have just escaped from a fantastical tale, awaiting a passerby to guide them. Their role is to create a connection between the viewer and the painting, to make it more present.”

El Habib’s figures are not literal representations, she adds, but conduits for drawing us into his “dreamlike universe”.

The artist is driven by acute observation and a compulsion to consistently explore a scene or an idea further. He says: “Sometimes much more comes up for me after I finish a painting. A single work doesn’t do it justice, so I have to dig deeper.” For the Saatchi Yates exhibition, he found himself obsessively “expressing the same thing over and over”, enjoying the “steps and jumps” it took him in new directions.

The artist says he learns a lot from just looking – whether he is staring at nature or the work of artists, particularly old masters, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Edvard Munch and Vincent van Gogh. He admires their figurative works most. “Drawing is very important,” he says. His works also have a philosophical bent, thanks to his interest in the works of Aristotle and Friedrich Nietzsche, for example.

El Lahib adds: “My painting is not primarily about sunflowers, or landscapes, or nature. For me, it’s about painting and colour, about form and accuracy. It is also especially about the human being, with all his tributes!”

See them come to the fore at Saatchi Yates.

About the champion

The Wick - Dina Bizri Zaki

Dina Bizri Zaki is a London-based curator. She has exhibited works in spaces in New York, London, Paris and Beirut, alongside curating art auctions. She is the founder of MONA Projects, which produces interdisciplinary art projects, from publications and videos to art exhibitions. She is also the cofounder of BIG PARADISE, a collective of curators who aim to create new art experiences beyond the gallery. Dina Bizri Zaki is the associate curator for the Lebanese Pavilion at the upcoming Venice Biennale.

“What is truly real here is the feeling, the painting rather than its subject while a visceral and mystical energy comes forth.”

Place of Birth

Sidon, Lebanon

Education

Fine Art, Kunstakademie Düsseldorf

Current exhibitions

Solo show at Saatchi Yates, 6 March to 10 April 2024

Spiritual guides

My surroundings, including people and nature.


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Dates
06 March 2024 — 10 April 2024
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