Katya Traboulsi’s sculpture exhibition “Perpetual Identities” at the Saleh Barakat Gallery shows that beauty can survive even the darkest of times.
The show puts on display 46 hand-crafted replicas of Lebanese war bombs, reimagined using the different cultural iconographies associated with the identity of 46 countries.
Using a vast array of traditional artistic techniques such as beading, wood and stone carving, and porcelain painting, Traboulsi transforms destructive objects into beautiful ornaments that have transcended war and conflict.
Traboulsi started her project four years ago, spending a year to research the traditional artistic identities of each country and ensure her sculptures were accurate in their representation. Along the way, she traveled to 12 countries to work with and learn from artisans, who helped realize her designs.
“[I traveled] to India, Iran, China, Africa, Egypt, Morocco etc. to produce the pieces with the heart of the country,” she explains. “I’m a painter and I designed and created them with the help of these artisans.”
The others were produced here in Lebanon, such as the Lebanese bomb, crafted in a Phoenician style.
“It’s carved on cedar wood and represents the story of the Phoenicians,” Traboulsi explains, pointing to the detailed wood carvings of ships and oxen adorning the bomb.
The iconic hand-painted porcelain typical in Japan is evident on one bomb, while Russia’s bomb has been modeled after the very first Matryoshka doll. Thailand’s features their world-famous gold Buddhist temple designs.
Text: Maghie Ghali