Interview: Maya Hage
Luca Curci talks with Maya Hage during CANVAS INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2022, at ITSLIQUID ART SPACE – Venice Grand Canal.
Maya Hage (b. 1974) is a Lebanese artist, teacher, and independent curator working from Beirut and Lisbon. She holds a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts and a Master’s Degree in Art Criticism and Curatorial Studies. Her body of work tackles themes related to identity through reminiscences of history and their inscription in post-war Beirut. Her art practice seeks to uncover what fundamentally supports the self and how one copes through art with the spectral presence of past experiences, memories, wounds, or founding moments. Her research focuses on the relationship between art, memory, and history. She currently teaches in the Master’s program in Art Criticism and Curatorial. Maya Hage is also an Education and Programming Consultant for Beirut Museum of Art (BeMA) and heads the Curatorial Development department at Nadim Karam Studio. Her curatorial experience includes assisting the curator Nayla Tamraz in the exhibition Poetics, Politics, Places part of BIENALSUR, Argentina (2017). Her art practice comprises oil, acrylics, and mixed media on canvas as well as works on paper and serigraphy. Her artworks have been featured in solo exhibitions in Lebanon as well as in several collective exhibitions in Lebanon and abroad including La Foire de Genève, Palexpo, Geneva, Switzerland; La Biennale de l’UMAM, Nice, France and Salon d’Automne, Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon.
Luca Curci – What is art for you? And how is being an artist nowadays?
Maya Hage – Art is a way to explore the self, engage with otherness, and approach contemporary realities. For me, an artist with a relevant art practice is inevitably engaged in the contemporary challenges and socio-cultural realities of our times. Art is a tool for interaction and constructive dialogue. It allows to reflect on otherness and foster tolerance but also has the potential to trigger change through socially relevant interventions in the public realm.
LC – What are you currently working on?
MH – I’m currently developing a series of mixed media works which explores art as a ritual that supports the quest to find oneself. Around the notion of Spectral, my current practice develops through a creative routine that mirrors an instinctive habit to construct patterns that lead us to equally embrace and run away from one’s fears and wounds. The multi-layered canvasses I create, stitch together strata of drawings and materials that are paths leading towards both introspection and healing processes: they echo the subtle and evasive equilibrium we seek through what we choose to bury and what we allow to surface.
LC – How is your creative process?
MH – My creative practice unfolds in a ritual-like process consisting in drawing and painting overlapping thoughts and images that appear to be folding and unfolding, veiling, and unveiling on the canvas surface. Inscribed in the strained media, the mistreated and bruised canvas and paper, traces of the cohabitation between the harsh and the delicate are found, in between the overwhelming intensity of violence and the soothing subtlety of the creative act. The artworks thus carry the spectral presence of inner images. My work also carries an ephemeral or fleeting dimension. Spectral for instance is meant to remain a work in progress until it reaches a final «destination» or addressee which will have control over the “final act” of creation: the collector can either reveal the images buried underneath the layers of rice paper that hides them either partially or completely or choose to keep them unrevealed, unhealed. The work then escapes willingly my control and integrates another person’s pathway and becomes part of his or her journey; utterly reappropriated.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
MH – My art practice is about revealing what fundamentally supports our being and how one copes through art with the spectral presence of past experiences, memories, wounds, or founding moments. My research in that sense tackles themes related to identity through reminiscences of memories and history and their inscription in art practices.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the exhibition?
MH – I think ITSLIQUID vision is significant with regard to contemporary challenges and global context: it secures an extended space to interact and exchange ideas and allows artists from different geographic and cultural backgrounds to explore, from various contexts and perspectives common subjects. The theme is interesting in the fact that it tackles ideas that are relevant to the art world as much as they are in the globalized world.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the exhibition’s theme?
MH – Spectra, Shifting Geographies 1,2 and 3 are inherently linked to the idea conveyed by the exhibition’s theme through the canvas itself, which I have used both as medium and material, but also through the creative process per se, which consists in weaving together ephemeral networks of images and thoughts, revealed and inscribed symbolically on a larger «canvas» on which other artists have inscribed their own contribution.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
MH – Yes, it can, it gives an opportunity to exhibit in interesting cities around the globe and offers a platform of interaction with other artists.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event? Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
MH – The organization is very professional on all levels, efficient and one can feel the team is highly professional and qualified. It was a real pleasure, and quite reassuring to deal with a dynamic, friendly, and very helpful team in any matter related to the exhibition.