The notable Middle Eastern multidisciplinary artist Oussamah Ghandour is perhaps becoming most recognizable for creating expansive abstract painting rich in bold, vibrant color and depth, as well as broad strokes. On viewing a Ghandour painting, one is always drawn in by the sheer expressive and fluid nature within his abstract representations of the everyday; making the very mundane pulsate with lucid movement over the canvas as though it were a dance or a musical rendition.
Ever the inquisitive and instinctive artist – always with new forms, technique, and materials – Ghandour’s works over the years have developed into a catalog of artistic languages all on their own. It is no surprise then that the artist’s newest series of works, flamboyantly titled SOULSIDE, is what he says is “a collaboration between me and the City Of New York”. Inspired by a walk around the city, Ghandour’s newest series, although still very much an abstraction, is a reflection and a meditation of his relationship with this city and, in a slight departure usual style of abstract work, showcasing the artist very much at play with the literal and still utilizing newer potent material.
Quiet Lunch spoke with the artist about SOULSIDE.
Quiet Lunch: Tell us about the journey to this new series!
Oussamah Ghandour: It started by taking a walk around the city. I started looking down and noticing the sidewalks and how interesting each square was. Black marks of what used to be chewing gum. Faces stained from oil marks, water forming silhouettes, footprints on forming concrete, plastic and trash on every square inch of the City.
Quiet Lunch: You have said that this was a collaboration between you and the city. Can you please explain this?
Oussamah Ghandour: It was more a silent collaboration; taken from the transient human journey with direct relationships to New York City’s infrastructure. I wanted to capture the soul of concrete. So I started documenting and taking coordinates. This brought the sidewalk to life.
Quiet Lunch: Why the move from your normal abstract work?
Oussamah Ghandour: I’m not moving away from abstract. On the contrary; I’m diving deeper into it. It’s a little different from my previous work. Inspiration comes from almost anywhere, and this time it came when I was on India Street; and Franklin in Brooklyn. I looked down at a piece of a sidewalk and couldn’t believe what I saw. It was an uninterrupted piece of art, created by both man and nature That was my calling. It’s part of my journey as an artist to answer these calls and document them as I see them.
Quiet Lunch: How many pieces are in this series of works?
Oussamah Ghandour: I have about 12 pieces in this series so far.
Quiet Lunch: What kinds of materials did you utilize within this series?
Oussamah Ghandour: The materials vary, I used asphalt, plastic, found objects, and late. And this new series is taken from a collective culture. The vision is from the streets.
Quiet Lunch: What would you say is the emotional process when painting or creating?
Oussamah Ghandour: In this series, I feel like it’s a different form of landscape painting. Im taking from what I see; the vision the streets give me, the emotions and footprints left behind from the people passing by. And I document that the way I feel it. From there it takes a life of its own.
Quiet Lunch: Why the title SOULSIDE?
Oussamah Ghandour: Since I came to this city, I’ve been inspired by the infrastructure, the cityscape, and the scale of what it means to be in this concrete jungle. In the concrete is where the human experience meets natural formations. Erosion, cracks, water, spills, gum stains, graffiti marks, spills of all kinds. Overlooked by many, or cast out as litter, I started seeing a story on each square block of the sidewalk. It was like placing a hidden canvas on the ground and having everyone silently collaborating. It felt to me as if it was the truest form of street art. I started seeing human figures etched into the sidewalk, messages, life; he soul of the city in its truest form; not spoiled by thought process, but pure natural instincts of popular culture. Side. Soul. Pop.
Guest Contributor: Terry Doe
Quiet Lunch is a grassroot online publication that seeks to promote various aspects of life and culture with a loving, but brute, educational tinge. When we say, “Creative Sustenance Daily,” we mean it.