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issue 42 - February/March 2018
CURVE magazine cover February/March 2018
Push  Art  


The Work of Camille Kachani and the Power of the Past

Memory and heritage form the basis of Camille Kachani's work. A member of the Brazilian Lebanese diaspora, Kachani found himself clinging to his roots an act which went on to inform his art from the very beginning. Making use of old furniture, Kachani builds artworks, contemporary, conceptual and certainly figurative, they spark the imagination and hint at a past full of striving, understanding and acceptance. Here we talk with the artist about his inspiration, work and process.

What led you to first begin producing art?
I started copying motifs and images I saw in the streets on paper with colored pen, at the age of five, in Beirut. I liked the way colors and shapes could make sense, at least to a child. Looking back at it, I wonder why we still do not realize that it takes only a small effort to introduce children to music, art, or literature and what a difference it can make in the life of the future adult! I mean, these are innate things that everybody can equally appreciate: who doesn't marvel in front of a stunning color or a beautiful song? Art in many ways is the ultimate bond between people; nothing else can bring people together as it can.

Tell us about your idea of diaspora/memory and heritage and how do you convey your message through art and the materials you use.
When my family arrived in Brazil in 1970, it was like being thrown into a different planet. We had nothing to hold on, everything was strange and new, though fascinating. So I stuck to what I knew: my language (the Arabic and the French I learned in school in Beirut), the food my mother cooked, the everyday rituals my father performed his typical Lebanese breakfast or hearing Fairuz or Brahms when he got back home after work. These little details constituted the core of my universe, and I still use them in my work. For instance, the coffee cups, even living in turbulent times during the beginning of the Lebanese civil war in the 1970s, my aunt still came every day to have a little chat and coffee with my mother ... people were still living their lives, you see?

What does each piece represent and how ...
I started using pieces I detached from a big old sideboard my parents brought with us to Brazil. I cut the doors and other parts off and rebuilt imaginary furniture, like I was rebuilding myself, or my identity: using the original material but with different combinations. So you have the cupboards and other pieces that don't open, useless furniture ... these works look like furniture but are something else, they are the repository of my memories. They store the world I was born in, but they are evolving, they are transforming. You can see the roots, but you can also see the sprouts emerging from the objects.

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