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Gallery Talks: In Conversation with Joanna Raad

As part of our group exhibition, 'Interconnected' hosted in collaboration with Arneli Art Gallery, we explore each artist's creative process and the underlying themes reflected in their works in our recent Gallery Talk series.

Joanna Raad is a Lebanese multidisciplinary artist and lecturer. She recently joined AUB as a lecturer at the faculty of arts and art history (FAAH). She has a Ph.D. in Theater, a Master's in Cinema, and a BA in performing arts from the Saint-Joseph University in Beirut (USJ/IESAV).

After years of research, Joanna chose to focus the theme of her artworks on childhood and visual memories. In a naïve and Neo expressionist style, she creates vivid compositions of colours, documenting and reconstructing the past in a modern way.

“Drawing is an intimate gesture, almost like writing a diary. There is freedom in drawing, as I can quickly and spontaneously express myself within the intimacy of a bedroom or in any public place or even a plane.”

What inspires your style?

Néo expressionism. naïve art. Marc Chagal

What sort of experimentation has led you to your current style as an artist?

The work on my childhood memories

Why did you start making art? How did you kickstart your artistic endeavour?

It’s a need. I liked writing a diary since when i was a kid. I took my first courses at the age of 5, inspired by my father and encouraged by my mother.

What other artists, genres or movements do you draw inspiration from?

Neo Expressionism/ naïve art/ primitive art/ narrative figuration

If you could change one aspect of society or social issues through your work, what would it be?

Hypocrisy. I would like to invite people to never forget their inner child and stay true to themselves and free

What do you do to get into your creative zone?

play music, attend exhibitions, dance to relief my body from stress

What are the biggest challenges you've had in your art?

Staying authentic

What ultimate messages do your creative expressions convey?

the importance of emotional memory

Are there any thoughts you wish to share in relation to the theme of interconnectedness? (the impact the global events of the last 3 years have had in your artistic endeavours as a female artist)

Paradoxically, it helped find refuge in art

Has technology had any impact on your artistic practice? In what ways has it affected or shaped it?

None yet

Are there recurring themes in your work, or any that have emerged as your work has evolved?

Childhood memories/ Lebanon/ Beirut/ my dad and my grandma stories/ diary mood

What are you working on now and next?

Painting flashbacks/emotional memories in semi-abstract way/ innovations in oil pastel

NTERCONNECTED - A group exhibition of 18 women artists from across Africa and the Middle East; showcasing 36 works in a variety of mediums and perspectives outlined in paintings, mixed media and digital art. Bordering between the known and the unknown, abstraction and figuration; the selected artists examine the interconnected complexities of human experience detailed through distinct artistic styles and approaches - in personal theory and form.

Visit exhibition here.


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