Featured Artist: Mazen Kerbaj

Feb 1 • Interviews • 5721 Views • 1 Comment on Featured Artist: Mazen Kerbaj

Born 1975 in Beirut. Graduated with a BA in Graphic Design and Advertising from ALBA. His main activities include comics, painting and music. In March 2000 he published his more personal work entitled “Journal 1999”, a diary in a comics format. Since then, he published eight other books and many short stories in Lebanon and abroad. As a musician, Mazen Kerbaj has released 7 albums in Lebanon, Europe and the USA, and played in solo performances and in various musical groups in Lebanon, France, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, UK, and the USA.

Interview

LR: Hi Mazen

MK: Hello

LR: Everybody is familiar with the work of your mother, the great Lebanese artist, Laure ‎Ghorayeb. Her artistic style is very evident in your work. How did her work influence yours?

MK: I think that the strongest link you could find between our respective works is in the ‎relationship between words and images/signs. On the formal level, I do not find a lot of ‎similarities between our styles. In other words, I think that the main influence of Laure in ‎my work is the fact that she is my mother and that I saw her drawings almost everyday since ‎I was born.‎

LR: Do you think that this is the beginning of a new artistic style? Do you have a name for it?‎

MK: I do not believe in style as such. I try as much as possible (without complete success) not ‎to develop a style. Regarding the novelty of what I do, I am strongly convinced that every real artist looks for ‎it, and I think that no one ever achieved this goal. Each artist and each piece of art is ‎directly related to – and cannot exist without – what came before it and will come after it.‎

LR: Your artwork seems to run like an artistic journal of your life and its events, and it was most evident in the series you developed during the July war. How do you ‎make the selections of these events that proliferate into your artwork?

MK: These artworks you’re talking about (the one you can see on the blog since the war) are ‎taken from my notebooks and are one part of my visual production.

I started drawing regularly on notebooks since the year 2000, after failing to ‎produce/publish a follow-up to my first book “Journal 99” that was a kind of diary in comics ‎format. These notebooks transformed in a sort of open laboratory for formal experiences ‎and diary entries. And since it is an open laboratory, I do not select at all what I choose to ‎put on the blog but rather put everything, regardless of the unequal quality of each ‎drawing. I am more interested in the process than the final result, and in this perspective, ‎all the drawings have the same importance.‎

LR: Many people know you as a musician more than an artist. When did you start experimenting with this type of ‎drawing?

MK: I actually started drawing since I could hold a pen. Like all the kids. I would say more likely ‎that I never stopped drawing, with the idea of becoming a comic’s author since I was as ‎young as 5 years old.‎

And since I started playing music around 12 years ago, I would say that people who think ‎they know me only as a musician do not really know me.

LR: How do you describe yourself? As a musician or an artist? Does one take priority over the ‎other?‎

MK: I hardly can describe myself. But i do not consider that one of the two disciplines is more ‎important than the other. ‎

LR: You have produced a series of drawings during the July war on Lebanon. How did the war ‎in general affect your work?‎

MK: Well, I am sure there must be an influence of the civil war in my work in the first place, but ‎I never cared to know what or where it is. For the July 2006 war, I think that the influence ‎was just on the level of the quantity of work produced (up to 12 drawings a day ‎sometimes). For the rest, it was just a forced subject that I had to deal with on the paper.‎

LR: You are a blogger also, and very well known within the blogging sphere. When, How and ‎why did you start blogging?‎

MK: I started this blog with the war. I do not think of myself as a blogger. I never visited a blog ‎before opening one and still do not visit a lot of them. ‎

LR: How does your blog affect your artistic production?‎

MK: Well, I try not to let it affect in any way my artistic production. I continue working as I ‎always did.‎

LR: You produced many drawings in black and white. Color has been very subtle until very recently, ‎then it started to seep into your work. How do you describe this transformation?‎

MK: I just drew in black and white to go faster and not for any other “artistic” reason. ‎
I usually work in both colors or B&W depending on the moment and conditions I am in.‎

LR: You have published your work in a book recently; I understand it is already available in the bookstores in ‎Lebanon.‎

MK: It will be published by the French publisher “L’Association”. It will be available in bookstores in Lebanon by the end of March.

LR: I understand it is themed publication.‎

MK: It is a book with all the drawings and texts concerning he war. Published chronologically. This is going to be my ninth publication.‎‎

LR: It was a pleasure Mazen. We’ll keep our news section updated with your newest.‎

You can reach Mazen at his website

www.kerbaj.com

and at his blog

http://mazenkerblog.blogspot.com

You can reach him by mail also at

Mazen Kerbaj
P/O Box 55581
Sin el Fil, Beirut
Lebanon‎

One Response to Featured Artist: Mazen Kerbaj

  1. podarki says:

    Вообще, на мой взгляд, самое лучшее в личном блоге, так это самопознание.

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