Annie Kurkdijan: Body and emotions in art

Published November 29th, 2022 - 06:53 GMT
Sunset and stillness
Wadi Al Qor Buraq Dam Sharjah and Ras Al khaimah (Shutterstock)

 In her newest exhibition “Stillness”, artist Annie Kurkdijan meditates on the intimate relationship between the physical body and different states of emotion. 

The exhibition, hosted by the Wadi Finan Art Gallery, debuted this Saturday. It showcases a range of the artist’s newer works in a variety of formats, from acrylic paintings to mixed techniques. 

An Armenian born in Beirut in 1972, Kurkdijan lived through the Lebanese Civil War for 16 years, and uses her art as a personal source of healing from the trauma she endured.

Her paintings, the artist told The Jordan Times, “are like a diary. The symbols, gestures and themes I depict are all directly, or intimately, related to my personal life”. 

Before dedicating her life to art, Kurkdijan pursued more traditional fields of study, and in 2005, she began her career as an artist.

“Art heals the artists, that’s the fundamental role of art,” she said, adding that “during the war, we didn’t have access to psychological support. This was very secondary, and we didn’t think about this. We were just thinking about surviving”.

After fleeing from the war to France, she tried to pursue psychology to heal herself from the PTSD she suffered from her childhood in Lebanon. Ultimately, however, it was art that was her remedy. 

“Psychology’s procedure is aggressive, confronting pain and trauma. Art is confronting too, but it’s a smooth method to healing. Art is aesthetic, it pleases the senses. It’s like medication but with sugar, so it can be swallowed easily,” the artist said. 

The title of her showcase “Stillness” draws on the quiet, intimate nature of her entire body of work. The motif of distorted yet peacefully languid figures within her art comes from her keenness towards the emotional charge behind bodies and their shapes.  

Every detail of the body Kurkdijan justifies and chooses intentionally. Describing her motif of long, boneless fingers, she says, “when you’re lonely, you look at your fingers. You have a relationship with your hands. It’s just you who knows each detail on your fingers that you learn in solitude. I am interested in the feelings they provoke”. 

“I chose the body because I want to make the most intimate art possible. I want to draw the body in its solitude and what it does in its solitude, how it feels. That’s the most intimate thing we can represent,” she noted. 

While the artist sees her art-making as almost an entirely personal process, she said that “my art is healing me, but there’s a chance that someone can see this process of healing and can be encouraged to create art. It can inspire others to transform the ugly things into something beautiful and heal themselves”. 

The exhibition, which features over 15 of the artist’s works in paintings, drawings and etchings, lasts until December 17. 


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