Franco-Lebanese artist Christine Safa is recognised for her poetic paintings that, at once personal and inviting, prompt reflections on the inseparable relationship between humanity and the land.Read More
Born in 1994 in Paris, Safa graduated from École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris in 2018. The artist continues to live and work in Paris.
Painting mostly in oil and often on small-scale canvases, Christine Safa favours warm colours to depict dreamlike close-ups of human figures and horizons. Many of Safa's paintings are titled after lines from her poems or readings, and reference nature, light, and moments of intimacy.
Christine Safa has described her paintings as 'tributes' and 'fragments of memories' revolving around the stories of Lebanon that the artist's parents have shared with her. Translated into paint, the stories merge with Safa's own research into the geopolitics of Lebanon and travels to the Middle East.
Christine Safa mixes her own paints, incorporating linseed oil and marble powder into the pigments, and varies their application to create subtle nuances in light and atmosphere. On the small canvas titled Horizon, le calme de la mer (2021), an almost translucent layer of blue is superposed over a burnt orange background. Denoting a calm sea, the blue takes up most of the canvas, leaving a thin line of orange sky at the top.
The paint in Le soleil derrière la montagne (2022), by comparison, appears more opaque. In the image, layers of orange and blue capture the sky at the ambiguous time of day before the sun sets or rises. An additional coat of orange over the trees captures the diffuse light, while a hint of lighter yellow behind the green gently evokes the sun.
The human figures in Christine Safa's paintings are almost interchangeable with the landscape in their monumentality and form. Sometimes recognisable and other times abstracted to the point of incomprehension, the human face occupies most of the canvas in works such as À l'heure où le soleil déborde de tous les coins du ciel (2020) and Visages d'écume (2021).
The impressions that result from Safa's approach to the human figure are intimate in the images where the viewer comes into close contact with forms that appear to be sleeping or resting, and fluid when their forms begin to round and resemble terrains.
Christine Safa has shown her work in solo and group exhibitions. Represented by Galerie Lelong & Co. since September 2022, the artist will hold her first solo exhibition at the gallery's Paris location in 2023.
Solo exhibitions include C'era l'acqua, ed io da sola, Fondazione ICA Milano (2022) and L'habitude du ciel, Praz-Delavallade, Paris (2021). Group exhibitions include L'été retrouvé, Praz-Delavallade, Paris (2022); Horizons, Lévy Gorvy, Paris (2021); and Finale, Musée des Beaux Arts, Paris (2019).
Christine Safa's Instagram can be found here.
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2023