New and old works of the Lebanese comic painter Mazen Kerjab are shown in the exhibition ‘In the Presence / Absence of Mazen Kerbaj’. The artist deploys two tropes that are common in 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 Kerjab 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.
Artist talk with Mazen Kerbaj
28 February 2020 | 16.00
Mazen Kerbaj invites X plus one
Music and visual arts are the two facets of Mazen Kerbajs work. Both practices influence each other a lot, and it seems very natural to present a series of concerts in this exhibition. In this series Kerbaj invites one of his close collaborators in Berlin, asking her/him to bring along another musician. The name of the second musician will remain unrevealed to Kerbaj and to the audience until the date of the show, where the three musicians will perform together for the first time.