Huguette Caland (Lebanese, 1931-2019)
Fragmented Memories (9)
acrylic, coloured and silver pens on loose canvas
7678 x 61in. (195 x 155cm.)
Executed in 2008
Galerie Janine Rubeiz, Beirut.
Private Collection, Beirut.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2009.
Beirut, Galerie Janine Rubeiz, Silent Memories: Huguette Caland, December 2009.
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Lot Essay

Internationally-acclaimed artist Huguette Caland is one of Lebanon’s most renowned artists, whose work was celebrated in a recent major retrospective at Tate St. Ives, Cornwall, 2019 and she is currently the subject of a solo exhibition Huguette Caland: Faces and Places spanning six decades of her career, at MATHAF: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, 2020.

Born in 1931 in Beirut, she was the only daughter of the first President of the Republic of Lebanon, Bechara El Khoury, and studied at the American University in Beirut where she mastered techniques to concentrate on the power of line by drawing continuous, unbroken tracks across the page, a method which would come to define her practice. In 1970, Caland left for Paris to pursue her career, later moving to the Venice neighbourhood in Los Angeles, California in 1987, building a palatial studio and home where she remained until her death in 2019. Right into her eighties, Caland continued to produce magical creations on canvas and other materials, magnificent and beautifully detailed works filled with fine brushstrokes, inks, threads and pens. Conjuring fantastical, exuberant scenes from the fabric of memory, her passion for colour is evident throughout her body of work.

Caland gained prominence for her distinct style by the mid-1970s in her exploration of the human form seen in the brilliant Bribes de Corps series 1973-1976. While in Paris, she collaborated with renowned poets and artists such as Adonis, George Apostu, and fashion designer Pierre Cardin in 1979, who produced an exclusive line ornamented with her whimsical and enchanting motifs. Continuing to establish her practice, she shifted from the human form into more abstract paintings after her move to California. From that time in the late 1980s, she began and continued to experiment with different media and used her canvases to reflect upon emotional memories of her past; recognising her feelings around family, war and freedom.

In the present two works, harmony and lyricism take an overall form through an intricacy reminiscent of lace and Arabesque sensibilities, which carry the spirit of tapestries and woven textiles. The organic shapes indicate a sense of movement and fluidity in Caland’s colours and lines, sprinkled with repetitive grid-like marks underlying formal tones. There are echoes of sensibilities like those seen in the works of Paul Klee and Gustave Klimt, but in her love of free forms and nature, she celebrates the joys of life against a victory of hope intrinsic to her Lebanese roots. Caland had never preconceived her works and they exude a sense of childlike innocence. Elements are constantly layered with expressionistic freedom, which absorb and invites the viewer into an almost open diary of her life; microcosmic journeys through the textures of her magical world and memories.

Huguette Caland’s exhibitions include the Venice Biennale (2017), the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2016), a retrospective at the Beirut Exhibition Centre, Beirut (2013) and the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (2012). Caland’s works are held in numerous public and private collections, including the Tate, UK, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the British Museum, London, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, Los Angeles.

Post Lot Text

This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist.

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