Haytham Sharrouf and His Fantasies in Art
To know more about Haytham Sharrouf, one just has to enter the space he currently occupies at the Doha Fire Station Residence, which is filled with his work of art. There is a nervous energy about him that is all directed at the work at hand. He dips his brush into the paint and goes on a frenzy, creates and paints in colours and forms that are intense and thought-provoking.
Born in Venezuela and raised in Lebanon, Haytham is an interior architect, graphic designer, and furniture designer, and yet he loves art which is where he loses and rediscovers himself. Everything Haytham does, has a story behind it, a process behind the inception of the designs that he creates, the colours that he washes across the canvas, and the mediums that he mixes to create. He loves dabbling in multiple mediums, disciplines, and styles to create unique compositions and artworks.
“There is a reason why we had to leave Venezuela, “he says, as he delves into one story that brings us to the concept of an artwork, for every artwork is the result of a thought or a past action or story that has left its deep layers on Haytham, “Members of my family were killed in Venezuela in a crime and I had to leave the country to Lebanon to be brought up by my grandmother and aunts.”
That early tragedy seems to have left its mark on Haytham, and the resulting artwork is provoked by the intimate personal story of the 6-year-old Haytham and his struggle to exorcise himself of a stolen childhood that haunts him. One after another, these artworks trace histories of successive stages of a life full of anguish and jubilation, accomplishments and breakdowns, new starts, and sudden setbacks.
Able to keep only a bottle of his mother’s calla lily perfume, this beautiful single petal flower became an embodiment of a life journey in various manifestations to Haytham.
The first set of his collection of 15 artworks, called The Echoes of a Flower, takes off from these thoughts, it emerges as an embryo, symbolising the deep connection the artist has with his mother and finally evolving itself into a flower that is associated with the smell he remembers. “The flower becomes a part of yourself, it envelops you and becomes a part of yourself.”
“That rose, as well as its fragrance and the geometric form, develops into a psychological hideout in which the inner self finds a consoling shelter in moments of insecurity, vulnerability, and helplessness. The design element in the paintings is very self-contended. It combines three abstract and stylised philosophies: The body, the limbic system, and calla lily. The anatomy of the limbic system develops from one painting to another, while both the outer forms of the rose and the distinctive palette stay almost the same.”
The large room given to each resident artist for the Doha Artist Residency, one of which is occupied by Haytham is crowded with 15 of these paintings of flowers in various forms, iterations, shapes, and sizes and it seems as if Haytham had made himself lighter of his inner pain by expressing it through these iterations.
If you thought these paintings are all that Haytham has worked on, you cannot be more wrong, for his next work of art has a completely different story to tell. His next art manifestation takes cues from the love story of Khalil Gibran and Mey Ziadeh.“The two abstracted, human forms made out of metal embody the shells that Gibran and Ziadeh have built themselves into to isolate from the world. Yet, the distance between them and the connection they shared is personified by the metal beams between the two figures relaying their connection,” explains Haytham.
Then in the same space, Haytham has imagined a new material, a mesh-like fabric that lets light through and takes the shape given through pressure, a manifestation of what the artist went through during the isolation period of lockdown. “Without light, a sense of time is lost and so without human interaction, there is a sense of timelessness, a loneliness that is difficult to eradicate. Thus, came the inspiration for a material that changes with light and represents the human complexities when met with light and interaction,” he explains as he plays with this light malleable mesh, covering himself with the mesh, an artist who is already in the process of creating his next work.
Haytham has more to tell us and more paintings to finish, and he is grateful to be in Qatar where he is being encouraged to tell stories of inner conflicts and personal jubilations and be a part of the cultural awakening of the country and its people.
Pics Courtesy: Haytham Sharrouf