Interview: Marcelle Mansour
Luca Curci talks with Marcelle Mansour during CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2019 at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Marcelle Mansour (OAM) is a Sydney-based Australian visual artist, photographer, poet, contributing bilingual writer/journalist and UPF Ambassador for Peace. Born in Palestine to Eastern Christian Orthodox Palestinian parents who were exiled from their homeland Jaffa, Palestine in 1948. Marcelle received both a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and a Master of Studio Arts (MSA) at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney,
and previously a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature (B.A.) from Ain Shams University, Egypt. Marcelle has been professionally practicing arts for many years and has held numerous national and international solo and group art exhibitions with acclaimed artists in prestigious venues in Sydney, New York, Paris and Venice. Her works span from representational art of portraits, murals, sceneries, women, socio-political issues through to abstract, digital, and light arts. Inspired by spiritual artists Kandinsky and Malevich and influenced by International contemporary Light and Space Artists Turrell and Irwin, together with philosophers, and her Eastern Christian Orthodox traditions. Marcelle created portraits for prominent multicultural Australians “Shifting Waves” in 1998 and “Treasure Forever” in 2016. Her contemporary solo exhibition of Light and Perception “Threshold” was acknowledged by UNESCO International Year of Light (IYL) as a part of the UN International Year of Light, (IYL). Marcelle is the author of “Shifting Waves” book, and she was selected as a Role Model on cultural aspects. She participated at the 21st Biennale of Sydney SUPERPOSITION in 2018. She received a Presidential award from H.E. the President of her motherland Palestine in 2016. An award-winning artist Marcelle Mansour, was honored to be awarded the Order of Australian Medal (OAM) in 2017 with the approval of Queen Elizabeth the Second, by His Excellency General the Honorable David Hurley AC DSC Governor of New South Wales, for her service to the Visual and Literary Arts, and to the Community.
Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Marcelle Mansour – I have two Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) and a Master of Studio Arts (MSA) from Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney in Australia and previously a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and English Language (B.A.) from Ain Shams University in Egypt. I have been professionally practicing Visual Artist, Poet and Contributing Bilingual Writer/Journalist for many years. I grew up in Palestine before computers, mobile phones and social media. Since my childhood, at school, I was told that I was multi-talented intellectual young artist who excelled in visual arts, literature and scientific subjects. I was made constantly responsible on producing and editing school monthly magazine including handwriting, drawing and coloring. At the age of ten, I was awarded the top prize by His Excellency the Governor-General. At the age of thirteen, my art won first prize in the district examination by the Department of Education. I also created portraits for people I knew. At the age of sixteen, after SIX-DAY WAR, I embarked with my family on a pilgrimage to Palestinian Holy Land Jerusalem. when I visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; with my sister and brother; we knelt humbly in front of Jesus’ Tomb with candles alight and said our prayers. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of orthodox holy icons and influenced by its color, harmony and artistic revelations. The feeling of that moment of spiritual connection remains strong and resides within the core of my being. At the age of nineteen, I survived near-death experience (NDE) when I suddenly fainted unconscious in front of my mother, I passed through a long tunnel toward a real huge bright white light and immediately my mother strongly awakened me. In my twenties, I immigrated to Australia and became Sydney-based professional Artist. At mature age, I accomplished my Master of Fine Art degree in contemporary painting with using light itself as a material to impinge the medium of perception. However, I still use other traditional materials. I grew up with my art instilled in me from a very young age. The stages of my life experiences certainly have an influence on my art and my artistic process.
LC – What are you currently working on?
MM – I am currently working on my solo art exhibition. My project is a series of Contemporary Digital Art with the purpose to reflect on human thoughts, beliefs and feelings towards how artists and viewers become critique of the many crisis facing our globe today. My work may be used as an art therapy for inspiring some viewers suffering from medical conditions.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
MM – Through practicing my art, I discover my sources of inspiration through color, natural world and human subjects. I draw my inspiration from various sources such as portraits of people, humanity, philosophy, spirituality and light aiming at social transformation for better. I get inspired by the powerful concept of light and perception to reveal the invisible. Through my various sources of inspiration, I find myself commit to reflect on various topics and support different kinds of causes towards peace and justice. I believe contemplating and philosophizing matters is very inspirational. The philosophy of contemplation and meditation has its roots in pre-Aristotle, Socrates and Plato, and their successors. “Jerusalem” in Palestine where Jesus Christ was born means the “City of Peace”. Greece was the source of philosophy and all types of arts, including theater, drama, acting, singing and visual arts which merged from Eastern Orthodox Holy icons. Philosophy is necessary in our practical life at the individual, societal, national and global levels, to stimulate the human awareness and awaken the human conscience for supporting true humanity and reshaping society.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
MM – I really challenge myself to keep creating something purposeful, unique, authentic that I haven’t ever seen. Since my childhood until present I have been constantly told that my projects and images are original and of high quality, creative and thought provoking. Rethinking thinking and striving for perfection is very challenging. An example is through my pictorial art, in my solo exhibition of cross-cultural creative work titled “Treasure Forever” 2016, when I created portraits for prominent people in a contemporary realistic style, I found it challenging to capture the sitter’s physical appearance, the precise facial features, and meanwhile presenting the inner psyche of the personality traits with smiling face and joyful soul, unlike the classical portraits. Another example is through my abstraction art, in my solo exhibition of “Threshold” 2014, when I worked with contemporary light and perception, I used spirituality through phenomenology towards human transformation and sociopolitical change. It was very challenging to make viewers a part of my arts while trying to perceive the changeable colorful light movement. Also, in my solo art exhibition of “Discover the Power of Super-Consciousness” 2017, the purpose of my art was: “to light up the Consciousness of both its makers and viewers towards the rebirth of humanity. The significance is to motivate
viewers to experience a unique journey into human Consciousness to discover and access the Super-Consciousness that grants humankind the freedom of gaining the power to reconstruct individuals, societies and the world”. One of the reviewer’s feedback of Lensculture Art Photography Award 2018 was: “With this noble purpose you have given yourself a very difficult challenge!”.
LC – Do visitors’ suggestions enrich yourself and your art?
MM – Absolutely, I like to engage my viewers with contemplating and reviewing my artworks, so they become a part of my art. My solo exhibition of Light and Perception titled “Threshold”, the viewer can contemplate the images of circulating colorful light, making the interaction more personal. “Threshold” was exhibited for several times, the longest was at Mary McKillop Place Museum for four months during which I kept meeting my viewers and sharing ideas with them and listening to their personal views and thoughts which were interesting and enriching to both artists and viewers. Several exhibitions of mine were accompanied by talks and seminars which provided opportunities for Q & A and lead to more fruitful discussions. I really find interacting with my viewers is pleasant experience and great opportunity to enrich my ideas and develop my artistic skills.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
MM – I particularly selected three of my artworks that fit the subject of the sixth edition of CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2019 and is relatively connected to the theme of the entire festival that focuses on IDENTITIES and the relationship between man, society and contemporary cities. The three artworks I displayed revolve around the same topic of the exhibition. I have expressed my identity as an Australian artist, from Palestinian Christian Orthodox roots, living in Australia of Western multicultural secular country, in Sydney NSW which is the country’s largest city. I also traveled and
visited various cities. Seeing the world, peoples, and cities must have influenced the crystallization of my personality, my view of the world, my lifestyle, my behavior, my thoughts and my philosophy in life. I have created my work in Contemporary Digital Art. It represents my identity reflecting on the ‘Mind’s Eye’ and human conscience which directly impacts our visual perception. For I believe through the mind’s eye, artist can sense the unseen and penetrate the depth of another world of invisible reality where the hidden truth can be revealed. Through my paintings, I express the value and the joy of my conscience. As an artist, I take my conscience with me wherever I go in the world, my conscience follows me like my shadow and carries my creativity to the globe. My paintings here represent my voice to communicate. My art reveals the inner depths of my character. It reflects self-consciousness, and conscience that makes the concept of the self which answers the questions of “Who am I?” and “What am I doing in my life? how do I connect with people around me? And what can I do for the benefit of my society?”. It presents my identity as Ethnos Christian who loves people – regardless to their origins or religions, with faith or no faith – with concern to transform the world for a better peaceful place. My aim is to convey the message to my viewers encouraging them to take their conscience out of the box and return it into daily life and discover its power to do them and society good. Through my creativity I seek to get myself thinking afresh about my thoughts, feelings and conscience. I explore the amazing power of experiencing the joy that keeps my conscience clear with tremendous potential for good. And how to choose using the power of transforming the world towards just peace is my optimistic responsibility.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
MM – Sure, I strongly do agree with your vision of art. I am very proud to participate in the festival of the sixth edition of Contemporary Venice 2019, specially Venice is regarded as one of the top majour cities of Arts and Culture. I Have never exhibited in Venice before and therefore it was thrilling for me to be able to send my work to display over there. I believe the theme of the Exhibition is fantastic idea, for it presents selected artists from around the world with various cultures of origins, religions, beliefs and languages. The exhibition focuses on the theme of IDENTITIES and on the relationship between man, society and contemporary cities. It explores different lifestyle of people in different cities. It is a very smart way to make people connect globally together for it is important to respect and appreciate diversity of different cultures and values. It allows interacting of human race and helps building bridges of mutual understanding and trust across wider communities that passed down from one generation to the next. This proves the important role that art can play – socially and politically – in creating harmony and shaping and enriching people’s lives around the world.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
MM – I recently came across the ITSLIQUID Group through the internet and I have learnt that it was founded in 2001 by Luca Curci, and during the last 20 years, it has become a cultural hub between artists, galleries and art lovers for it is dedicated to organizing international art events and managing solo and group exhibitions. “ITSLIQUID is a communication platform for contemporary art, architecture, design and fashion. It is based on fluidity, motion, connection and accessibility. Making things easy to do”. Based on my research and my experience, I believe that the above-mentioned is very true. It was ITSLIQUID Group that opened the door for me to have participated in the Contemporary Venice 2019 and had the chance to exhibit at the and prestigious venue of THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space in the heart of San Marco Square in Venice. Thank you to the ITSLIQUID Group team, including founder and Director Arch. Luca Curci, the Project Manager Giulia Tassi and the Project Coordinator Giulia Spagnuolo.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
MM – I am really interested in collaborating with you for it will be valuable for more innovative art ideas. As I have been selected to display my work at the ROOM Contemporary Art Space, Venice for a few weeks. It was a great opportunity for my work to be seen by International viewers. I am looking forward to expanding my options and to developing my art experience. As I am a Sydney-based Australian Artist, I have found your service of ITSLIQUID GROUP is of excellent Customer service and email service as one of the very best high quality. When I coincidently saw the advertisement of art call for entry the sixth edition of Contemporary Venice 2019 on the internet, I submitted the application of my artwork immediately at the last minute just before the closing date. My work was accepted same day, and the communication was taken care of efficiently by the project Manager Giulia Tassi through the email. Thank you once again Giulia.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
MM – I believe ITSLIQUID GROUP has a highly qualified professional team that can provide considerable opportunities for both emerging and established artists and offer them a unique exhibition experience. Exhibiting in Venice is one of the most recommended cities that can advance artists’ career.