Blazon | 2015
357embroidery and applique on textile flags and 59 laser cut on stainless steel shields. Ed. 1/3 +2 AP
In an initial attempt to predict the new green lines of Beirut, Rechamoui’s on-going project, Blazon, has evolved into an inspection and speculation of the written and oral histories of Beirut districts and neighborhoods. Applying the traditional protocols of blazonry, Rechmaoui creates coats of arms and banners corresponding to each district in the city. In suit with the concept of mapping urban spaces seen in his previous work, the artist does not view the city according to typical urban planning standards, but rather according to each neighborhood’s social, political, and etymological history. Thus dividing the city in accordance with the area’s giving name, which in turn may be based on geological elements, sectarian symbols or individuals, horticultural references, architecture, or family histories or etymologies. By understanding the city, its sectors, and its inhabitants, Rechmaoui’s project acts as chess board of shields and bannermen giving the viewer an in depth knowledge of Beirut’s past and a tool to understand its future.
Biography of the artist
Born in Beirut, Lebanon. 1964
Works and Lives in Beirut, Lebanon
Deriving inspiration from the geography and rich cultural history of Beirut, Rechmaoui's work often reflects themes of urbanization and contemporary social and behavioral demographics. He uses industrial materials such as concrete, rubber, tar and glass to create tactile works on a large scale.
His works have primarily focused on local landmarks, such as "Beirut Caoutchouc" (2004), a sprawling map of Beirut made of black rubber and embossed with precise details of roads and byways. Rechmaoui’s other major works include "Spectre" (2006), a reproduction of the modernist "Yacoubian Building", "A Monument for the Living" (2001), a large-scale architectural model of the derelict Burj Al Murr replicates a never completed, abandoned 1970s high-rise, which towers over downtown Beirut. In 2011, Rechmaoui debuted his UNRWA series, which included hand drawn maps on concrete, wood, and tin of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, and a series of found objects exposing different cluster munitions collected after the 2006 war in Lebanon. Rechmaoui’s "Pillars" (2014-ongoing) keeps the theme of deconstruction /reconstruction with an installation of domestic objects – various materials collected from crumbled ruins of a residential buildinq - embedded in a concrete pillar: a basic structural element in urban architecture. Flowers, pillows, amonq other decorative items reflect the burden of the past, which is still prevalent in the postcolonial period. The proiect had its first public displav in the 2015 lstanbul Biennial.
Rechmaoui’s work has been shown in exhibitions in Lebanon and abroad, including the "Musée Granet", Aix-en-Provence, France (2013); "Serpentine Gallery", London, UK (2012); "Saatchi Gallery", London (2009); "Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland (2009); Musée d’art Contemporain de Nîmes, France (2008); and Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels", Belgium (2008). In 1998, he had a solo show at "Centre Culturel Français", Beirut. He has participated in the São Paulo Bienal, Brazil (2006), and the Sharjah Biennial, UAE (2005).
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