Lex Ter Braak - Van Eyck Academie - Open Studios - 2019


Marwan Moujaes is showing work both inside and outside his studio. Like the two passport-style portraits hanging some distance from each other in the academy. A striking aspect of both paintings is the desolate, inward-looking gaze of the portrayed figures. One is a portrait of Moujaes' grandfather and the other of his father; in real life they never met. Here, too, the pair of lost souls seem incapable of bridging the distance between them in time, space and material (paint). 

The work of Marwan Moujaes is about loss, mourning, recollection and unrequited promises, in an empty and often absurd world. For example, the sky above the Jan van Eyck Academie is captured on screen in a birdcage. The sky that the bird within the cage will never be able to reach. 

If you look outside the studio window, one of the trees has a dead limb fixed to it. It is a branch that Moujaes brought from Beirut. A banner, hung from another tree, gives instructions to the birds, announcing the suspension of their flight, every day, from 9am till 5 pm. 

Moujaes has also been working on drawings of dogs — dogs that people in certain Arab countries will kill in the belief that angels will stay away from where dogs roam. Moujaes' drawings capture the moment just before the act of slaughter. On a commission from Moujaes, and on the basis of one of his drawings, the French dog portraitist Elia David painted a portrait of one of those many anonymous dogs.

Also, an oil painting depicting the artist’s own baptism, is presented in the classical art collection of the Bonnefantenmuseum during Open Studios.