New and old works of the Lebanese comic painter Mazen Kerbaj are shown in the exhibition 'In the Presence / Absence of Mazen Kerbaj'. The artist deploys two tropes that are common in underground comics: auto-biography and politics, an amalgamation of the personal and the historical.
In the exhibition curated by Hatem Iman the pieces get in dialogue. Parallels are drawn in time, medium and space like this. An idea, hastily scribbled on a restaurants' placemat can be continued or developed in a live drawing video. It is like entering a room with a legion of Mazen Kerbajs talking, drawing, arguing and drinking together. Each one of them is the record of a particular moment and a new place, on a spectrum of sobriety, in a varying tongue and also rendered in a different medium. For Kerbaj the movement is both a condition for his work and a subject as he is always on the move. The central piece – carrying the name of the show – orbits around a drawing station, left as though the artist was just there or perhaps is about to get back to it at any moment. This insertion of the physical body or its trace, blurs the line between the artist and his image.
About the artist
Mazen Kerbaj is a comic author, visual artist and musician born in Beirut in 1975. He also works on illustration and design projects and has taught at the American University of Beirut. As a trumpet player Kerbaj is one of the initiators and key players of the Lebanese free improvisation and experimental music scene. In 2015, Kerbaj was the recipient of a DAAD one-year artist in residency in Berlin. Since then Kerbaj has developed several new projects in different fields, such as the theatre play 'Borborygmus' or a concept for a live graphic score.
In the frame of his exhibition the series 'Mazen Kerbaj invites X + one' takes place.
Mazen Kerbaj invites Andrew Lafkas + one to the courtyard of ifa Gallery Berlin on July 9th.