Award-winning artist Nabil Helou has been pushing the boundaries of contemporary sculpture for over two decades. We discuss his work and what being Lebanese means to him.
TO WHAT EXTENT DOES BEING LEBANESE INFLUENCE YOUR WORK?
My work is greatly affected by who I am and where I’m from. Art and identity share commonalities and being Lebanese positively impacts my creativity.
WHAT IS MODERN SCULPTURE?
Little difference exists between the classic and modern. For me, modernity is an artwork that interacts instantly with the emotion of the observer, irrespective of space and time.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
My main inspiration is nature: the fluidity of water, the trees, the behavior of animals, the movement of stars and galaxies. But above all, it is the complexity of human emotions that I find inspiring.
My great grandfathers were stone builders who helped construct the [Beiteddine] palace. I therefore feel that my passion for stone and marble stems from the Shouf mountain.
IF YOU COULD BUY A SINGLE WORK OF ART, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I prefer to admire artworks in museums and art galleries. I favor a surrounding free that is free from the work of other artists. This keeps my vision devoid of external influences.
TELL US ABOUT THE SCULPTURE YOU EXHIBITED AT THE GARDEN SHOW & SPRING FESTIVAL IN BEIRUT THIS YEAR.
The sculptures I make are for ordinary people, those who may not visit museums and art galleries. The public bench sculpture at the festival was an interactive piece; I wanted the audience to sit on it, touch it and move around it to better appreciate the work and relate to it.
WHERE DO YOU ENJOY SPENDING TIME WHEN YOU ARE NOT WORKING?
I am originally from Shouf and every time I visit Beiteddine, my hometown, I feel that connection to my roots. I love to see the palace of Beiteddine every chance I get; each carved stone tells me a story of my ancestors.
My great grandfathers were stone builders who helped construct the palace. I therefore feel that my passion for stone and marble stems from the Shouf mountain. I am proud of my heritage and I am trying to preserve it in my own way, as a sculptor.